“To have a fire of this magnitude, now, it’s strange. Very unusual,” said Mr. Gallegos, who has lived in the area for eight years and watched the fire danger swell as summertime monsoons failed to arrive and the fields and trees dried out.
“All summer long, there would be showers in the forecast, but it never showed up.”
Climate scientists and researchers who study wildfires say climate change is driving longer fire seasons and larger, more destructive blazes — a growing danger as development and homes push farther into forests.
Jeanne Prater leaned on the counter at the Granby Sinclair station, gazing next door to the 7-Eleven that she was supposed to be managing. However, by midmorning, it was locked up and dark because she had no employees. They had evacuated.
Ms. Prater was left, for the moment, to muse about trying to manage life in the shadow of wildfires this late in the year.
“It’s bizarre,” she said, gazing out at the browned and arid landscape. “It’s usually cold and snowy at this time of year.”
Klaus Wolter, a climatologist at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, owns a home just west of Jamestown, Colo., about four miles from where the Cal-Wood Fire erupted on Saturday.
Mr. Wolter, who came to Colorado in 1988, is a veteran of several major wildfires, including Boulder County’s Black Tiger Fire of July 1989. At that time, it was the most destructive wildfire in terms of property loss and damage in Colorado history, torching 44 homes and structures.