Wildfire Near Boulder, Colorado, Prompts Evacuations

Pam Wright
Published: March 19, 2017

A wildfire near Boulder, Colorado, has prompted the evacuation of 426 homes.

According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the fire is located in the Sunshine Canyon area west of Boulder and was first reported around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The fire that has been dubbed the Sunshine Fire is estimated to have burned 62 acres, with 20 percent containment, and is moving in a southerly direction towards downtown Boulder.

“That is a major concern,” Gabi Boerkircher, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, told the Denver Post.

In addition to the homes already evacuated, another 836 homes are on pre-evacuation notice and have been told to be prepared to leave, including residents in portions of the city of Boulder. Evacuations and pre-evacuation alerts will remain in place overnight. No damage or injuries have been reported. 

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management said eight aircraft were in route, including a heavy air tanker, two National Guard Chinooks, and two Guard Blackhawks to help battle the blaze. However, air support is not available after dark.

A community center has opened as an evacuation shelter.

According to a press release, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper authorized the Colorado National Guard to assist civil authorities in Boulder County with aerial firefighting support of the Sunshine fire.

(MORE: Flooding, Mudslides Strike Peru, Leaving 72 Dead and Thousands Without Homes)

Boerkircher told the Denver Post that conditions are “rough” for firefighters.

“We were already going to be under a red flag warning today anyway,” she said. “It looks like it’s going to be very hot and very dry, and potential winds up to 20 mph. Which is not good.”

Boulder resident Andrew Mills said he awoke around 3 a.m. to the smell of smoke.

"After I realized it wasn't our apartment, I found out there was a large wildfire on the edge of town," he said in an Instagram post, accompanied by a photo of the blaze. "I grabbed my camera and took off for Flagstaff Mountain. I stayed most of the morning, only leaving to get different angles. It was one of the most awe-inspiring, terrifying and heartbreaking things to watch."

Boulder OEM warns that recreation around the city of Boulder is not advised because of air quality concerns.

Very warm and dry conditions have been in place since last week, says Bob Henson of wunderground.com. Boulder topped out at 81 degrees on Saturday, making it the second earliest 80-degrees reading on record.

"A very high fire danger remains in place Sunday, and a red flag warning is posted in northeast Colorado," says weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce.

The fire, which originated in an area used by hikers, may have been human-caused, according to the Associated Press.

MORE: Sunshine Fire Near Boulder, Colorado — March 19, 2017


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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