BOULDER, Colo. — Fire crews on Sunday were battling a fast-moving wildfire that raged south of the college town of Boulder and forced 19,400 residents to flee.
The site of the wildfire is not far from the location of a destructive 2021 blaze that destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Residents were ordered to evacuate quickly and stay off roads as firefighters manned the fire lines.
The wildfire, which was fueled by winds earlier in the day on Saturday, has grown to 122 acres with no containment, Boulder Fire-Rescue spokesperson Marya Washburn said. Some of the thousands of evacuated people were housed in an overnight shelter opened by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.
The evacuation orders covered 8,000 homes and 7,000 structures. So far, no structures have been damaged.
Winds and temperatures died down Saturday night, but officials expected the fire to keep burning for several days because of heavy fuels, Boulder Fire-Rescue Wildland Division Chief Brian Oliver said.
The Boulder Office of Emergency Management warned that as the winds diminish, residents may notice smoke in their area. This is not a sign of growing fires, the department tweeted.
The wildfire is adjacent to an area where last year’s fire destroyed 1,000 homes in unincorporated Boulder County and suburban Superior and Louisville. However, Superior town officials told residents their community was not in any immediate danger.
But the fire brought back painful memories for some residents such as Alicia Miller, who lost her home during the 2021 blaze. She posted a photo on Twitter and referenced climate change, which has made the US West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.
Miller said her neighbors helped her escape along with her husband, Craig, their three adult sons and two dogs, Ginger and Chloe. She said the hardest losses from the blaze were things like baby shoes, family pictures and letters from her grandmother de ella.
“I feel exhausted by all of this, and I just feel like enough as far as these fires and disasters,” she said. She pointed to a recent Texas wildfire that left a deputy dead and homes destroyed. “So I’m standing there and it’s just kind of a repeat.”
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The Boulder fire started around 2 pm Saturday, burning protected wildland near the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder police said. Authorities have called the blaze the NCAR fire; its cause is not yet known, Washburn said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism