Yet just last year, firefighters were shocked when the East Troublesome Fire not only burned at high elevations near Estes Park in October; it straight-up marched over the continental divide, which divides rivers that flow to the Atlantic or Gulf and those that flow to the Pacific. That divide, if it’s not clear, is generally extremely high in elevation and not prone to catching on fire at any time of year but especially not in the fall.


The East Troublesome Fire and the Kruger Rock Fire fit a pattern, though, of climate change making fire season stretch longer. An analysis published in 2016 by nonprofit Climate Central found wildfire season across the West is now 105 days longer than it was in the 1970s due to hotter, drier conditions that allow fires to burn deep into what were once the shoulder seasons.

That’s underscored not just by this fire but the conditions in other parts of Colorado and the West throughout the day. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for the Front Range in Colorado as well as parts of Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas due to high winds, low humidity, and warmer than normal temperatures.


“Conditions will be conducive to the rapid spread of new fires. Probability of ignition will increase,” the agency warned for the Front Range area. That means the Kruger Rock Fire could potentially have company by the afternoon.

Update, 11/16/21, 2:45 p.m.: This post has been updated with new information about the fire behavior and likely source of ignition.