Thick clouds of smoke drifted across the Northern Colorado sky, as flames consumed more and more of the forest below. The High Park fire, which is believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike, has covered more than 60 square miles, with nothing to slow it down.
The fire has damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes and other buildings so far. One person is missing.
Seventy-eight-year-old Velma Hudson and her husband, Jim, were among hundreds of people forced to flee their homes.
"Everything is still there. We walked out with nothing. I grabbed my purse. He forgot his glasses, which we have to get. And that's it. We're here. We're alive. And we know we're OK...," Hudson said.
Meanwhile, crews in southern New Mexico battled a 54-square-mile fire near the town of Ruidoso and an even larger wildfire that has charred 450 square miles since mid-May.
"The roar of that fire and movement of the wind was atrocious, just -- just -- I have never seen or never heard it and we have lived in Colorado most of our life." - Velma Hudson.
"It's a very aggressive fire. It's fuel-driven, wind-driven, and so the conditions have not been favorable. It's grown in a number of different ways." - Nick Christensen, Larimer County, Colo., Sheriff's Office.
1. What is a wildfire?
2. What are some of the conditions that would make wildfires more likely?
3. What areas of the country might be vulnerable to wildfires?
1. After reading about the fires in Colorado and New Mexico, would you ever want to live there? Should people be allowed to live in these areas that are at a high risk? Why or why not?
2. Who is responsible for keeping people safe from natural disasters?
3. Are there particular natural or weather related risks in your area? How can you prepare?
4. What should Colorado and New Mexico's government be doing to reduce the risk of fires or increase its ability to respond to fires?
5. What are some of the other possible consequences of having longer, hotter summers?
Destructive Fires in Southern California Highlight Risks of Dry Season: