Dry, windy conditions have made it tough for crews to contain the two largest wildfires in Colorado history. Officials are counting on help from above: a quick snowfall. "We're going from critical fire danger ending at 7pm to a midnight winter storm watch," said a National Weather Service meteorologist. Snow has started falling on the Cameron Peak Fire in the north-central section of Colorado, which has taken 207,464 acres. It was 60% contained as of Saturday, NBC reports. Near Estes Park, the East Troublesome Fire was only 4% contained. It's burned 189,389 acres, pushed by 60mph wind gusts, and is threatening the landmark YMCA of the Rockies. "We are still fighting an active fire, and there’s still a very dangerous situation here," a fire official said. New evacuation orders have been issued.
The two fires are only 10 miles apart, but officials don't expect them to merge. Nor do they expect the change in the weather to end the threat from the fires. Warm and dry conditions are expected to return by the middle of the week. "We know it's going to buy us a few days," said an official at the Cameron Peak Fire, "and that's big." The increasing heat is drying up soil and water throughout the Colorado River Basin, per the Denver Post. Federal officials last week measured 97% of the state in severe to exceptional drought. Climate change is behind the warmup, said a Colorado State University atmospheric scientist. "We’ve got to get motivated and stop turning the thermostat up," Scott Denning said. "That is urgent, not a sci-fi thing. It is us turning up the thermostat. It does not readily turn down." (Fox apologizes for choice of background music.)