Colorado weather: Fire warnings cover Western Slope, I-70 corridor as Fourth of July looms

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Crested Butte on the Western Slope, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The American flag flies on a downtown business.

A heat wave is bringing some of Colorado’s hottest weather to date this summer, with fire conditions expected to reach critical levels for the Fourth of July. 

The heat will be most intense in the Four Corners region and around the Interstate 70 corridor west of Vail, where the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning

“We are expecting dry conditions with relative humidity below 15 percent and even in the single digits in some areas,” said Matthew Aleksa, a NWS meteorologist. ”With that, we're gonna have increasing winds and we are expecting wind gusts in the 35 to 45 mile per hour range through the afternoon and evening on Tuesday for the Fourth of July.”

Residents within the designated area should  be cautious if lighting a fire outdoors. While no fire restrictions are in place right now, fire officials managing the nearly 3,000 acre Spring Creek fire in Garfield County said more fires would pull away important manpower.

Fourth of July festivities could spark fires when lit carelessly, regardless of location. Residents are encouraged to check municipality rules to see which fireworks are legal and to buy fireworks from licensed providers. Dry, windy conditions means fireworks may not go where intended, potentially leading to grass fires. 

The red flag warning is in effect from Tuesday at noon until 9 p.m. that night. 

Conditions along the Front Range will be hot Monday, but the weather is expected to cool down Tuesday. 

“We're gonna see quite a few showers and thunderstorms for the Fourth of July and they're gonna start possibly even late morning hours over the mountains and then spread eastward,” NWS Boulder meteorologist Bernie Meier said. “So we should see a few ways of showers and storms track across the area for the Fourth of July through the afternoon and evening hours.”

Meier said to expect storm conditions similar to last week, which caused hail damage, flooding and debris flows around the Denver metro.