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Environment & Climate

Humans start most of Colorado's wildfires, and get away with it. Hear a special report Friday at 8:30 AM as Four Corners Edition takes a holiday break

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Cameron Peak Fire incident command
A bulldozer drives along a perimeter near the Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins.

KSUT's news magazine show Four Corners Edition takes a holiday break this week. It returns next Friday, Dec. 3.

In its place, we're offering an important investigative report from Colorado Public Radio, Unnatural: How Humans Start Most of Colorado’s Big Fires, and Get Away With It.

Hear it at 8:30 AM Friday, November 26, on KSUT.
Here is CPR's companion web piece for the report.

In the half-hour documentary presentation, investigative reporter Ben Markus reveals that the biggest wildfires in Colorado, which have cost lives and millions of dollars, have unexplained origins. As the number and size of wildfires rise across the West, there appears to be little done to find and prosecute fire starters, or identify trends in order to prevent fires in the future.

CPR analyzed 18 years worth of federal wildfire data, and found that fewer than half of the state’s large human-caused wildfires have a known cause. That blind spot means authorities can’t change policies to limit new fires.

Interviews with dozens of people indicate that a lack of trained investigators is a major factor, as is a misalignment of priorities, to put most resources towards suppression — problems that exist not just in Colorado but throughout the region.

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