The Colorado Wildfires Left Behind A More Serious Danger

The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs is the most destructive in the state’s history. It ravaged more than 18,000 acres of land, consumed nearly 350 homes and killed two people. Although the blaze is now 100 per cent contained, one of the biggest hazards remains: mudslides. 

Wildfires clear the vegetation and roots that hold the soil together and suck up water when it rains. This means scorched hills are extremely vulnerable to debris flows, which carry everything from boulders and trees to cars and houses.  

The danger of fast-moving landslides can last for up to 10 years and often occur with little warning.  

The post-fire debris flows also creates massive problems for the public water supply, says Tasha Eichenseher of National Geographic. The mixture of ash and debris that flows into rivers eventually ends up in reservoirs and water-treatment plants.  

In the first week of July, heavy downpours triggered mudslides and flash flooding in an area decimated by the High Park fire. Authorities had to close part of Colorado highway 14.

In short, the devastating wildfires may be under control, but the charred hills they left behind pose serious risks for many years to come.  

Below is footage from Poudre Canyon where slides temporarily halted travel. 

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