- Associated Press - Friday, April 14, 2017

DENVER (AP) - The Latest on the 2017 wildfire outlook for Colorado (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Wildland firefighters expect an average to below-average fire season in Colorado this year.

Michael Morgan, the state’s top wildfire-fighting officer, said Friday that abundant snow in the mountains helps reduce the risk.

But most of the eastern plains have been in a drought or near-drought conditions since mid-October. Last month, a wildfire in northeastern Colorado blackened 50 square miles and killed 200 cattle.



Morgan says an average season in Colorado is about 45 wildfires burning a total of 160 square miles (415 square kilometers).

Morgan and Gov. John Hickenlooper say the state has a goal of reducing the number of fires by 10 percent by 2019.

Morgan says only about 7 percent of the state’s 2016 wildfires had natural causes. The rest were started by debris fires, campfires, prescribed burns, arson, mechanical failures or other causes.

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2 a.m.

Colorado wildland firefighters are preparing to forecast this summer’s fire season, and things could look very different on the eastern plains than in the mountains.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and the head of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control are scheduled to discuss the outlook Friday.

Most of the plains have been in a drought or near-drought conditions since mid-October. Last month, a wildfire in northeastern Colorado blackened 50 square miles and killed 200 cattle.

But the mountains received heavy winter snowfall after a slow start. Most of the high country has average or above-average snowpack.

The National Interagency Fire Center’s most recent outlook , issued April 1, predicted below-normal potential for significant wildfires in the Colorado mountains and normal potential for the rest of the state in May and June.

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