126 acre Colorado wildfire forces 19000 to evacuate is 0 contained
27 Mar 2022
Kieran Nicholson, Alex Burness
The Denver Post
Firefighters in the air and on the ground battled a 126-acre wildfire that broke out near the National Center for Atmospheric Research in southwestern Boulder on a windy Saturday afternoon, prompting evacuation orders for parts of the city and Eldorado Springs.
The wildfire, which comes less than three months after the deadly Marshall fire burned more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County, had not destroyed any structures or led to any injuries by late afternoon, authorities said. Firefighters had not achieved any containment.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, officials said.
Boulder police initially said about 1,200 residences had been ordered to evacuate due to what has been named the NCAR fire. By evening, the evacuation area had grown to cover the southeast section of the Table Mesa neighborhood and the Eldorado Canyon area, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.
That encompasses about 19,400 people, 8,000 homes and 7,000 structures, officials said.
The Boulder Office of Emergency Management described the evacuation area is “from NCAR to Baseline Road, east to U.S. 36, back down to Broadway, and straight west to NCAR again.”
Just before 5 p.m., the Eldorado Springs area was moved from a pre-evacuation warning to a full evacuation order. The boundaries for evacuation are: along Colorado 93 from Greenbelt Plateau east toward Greenbriar and Cherryvale, north of Eldorado Springs and Eldorado Canyon State Park, the east side of Walker Ranch Open Space and south of Greenbriar Boulevard.
The fire has burned about 126 acres and there was no containment as of about 6:10 p.m., Boulder emergency officials said. No structural property damage has been reported and there are no missing persons. Officials said they did not know when evacuations might be lifted.
To the south of the NCAR parking lot, firefighters could be seen spraying water on the grassy hill just above a residential area.
“The winds are dying down, that’s great news,” Boulder Fire Rescue spokeswoman Marya Washburn said just before 5 p.m. “Usually at night, fire lays down, we call it, it stops burning so hot and that helps us catch up.”
A little after 6 p.m., Boulder emergency officials said the fire was continuing to move south, but firefighters were working to protect homes in the Stony Hill neighborhood should the winds shift and blow the flames to the west. The crews were working to create a “wet zone” about 30 feet from the homes as a fire barrier, officials said.
The fire is burning on the southwest side of Boulder in an open space area near NCAR, police said. The Boulder Fire Department is on scene fighting the fire.
Emergency operations have been activated and wireless emergency alerts have been sent to all cell phones within a 1/4-mile radius of NCAR, police said.
The University of Colorado Boulder’s South Campus has been evacuated because of the fast-moving fire. Police ask people to avoid the area. Eldorado Canyon State Park, which was at capacity on Saturday, has been closed. Rangers are working to get visitors safely out of the park. People hiking or recreating in the area are asked to leave.
Firefighting aircraft have been used, at least five drops by about 6 p.m., to aid ground crews fighting the fire, Waugh said.
Colorado 93 was closed in the late afternoon in both directions from Colorado 128, near Superior, to Marshall Road because of the fire, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. It reopened at about 6:30 p.m. Eldorado Canyon, west of Colorado 93, remained closed.
An evacuation point has been set up at the East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Evacuees can get updated information there as well as other resources. Pets are welcome.
An evacuation center has been set up by the American Red Cross at the East Boulder Recreation Center, 5660 Sioux Drive. Staff and volunteers are on site. The Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, is taking in large animals. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley, 2323 55th St., Boulder, is sheltering smaller pets and companion animals.
At about 3:30 p.m., winds in Boulder were gusting to about 31 mph, humidity was 14% and the temperature was 73 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley, 2323 55th St., is accepting evacuated companion animals from the fire.
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