Evacuation Orders Lifted for Wildfire Burning near Boulder, Colorado

Pam Wright and Sean Breslin
Published: March 20, 2017

Officials lifted evacuation orders for more than 400 homes near a wildfire burning west of Boulder, Colorado, Monday morning.

Crews were able to keep the so-called Sunshine fire from growing out of control overnight and hope to fully contain the blaze by the evening, the Daily Camera reported. Very warm and dry conditions have been in place since last week, said Bob Henson of Weather Underground. Boulder topped out at 81 degrees on Saturday, making it the second-earliest 80-degree reading on record.

"Warm, dry conditions will persist again Monday in the Boulder area," said weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. "Low humidity and gusty winds are likely during the afternoon, and the National Weather Service has posted a red flag warning from noon to 7 p.m. local time."

According to CBS Denver, the fire – located in the Sunshine Canyon area west of Boulder – was first spotted at 1:40 a.m. local time Sunday morning. The inferno has burned an estimated 76 acres and is 80 percent contained.

(MORE: Flooding, Mudslides Strike Peru, Killing 72)

In addition to the evacuated homes, another 836 homes were placed under a pre-evacuation notice Sunday and were told to be prepared to leave, including residents in portions of the city of Boulder. No structural damage or injuries have been reported, but a community center was 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 at the blaze.

"I'm very concerned that it will spread," Boulder resident Anne Slichter told KMGH-TV. "Even if it doesn't spread into the town, just the damage it will do to this beautiful natural environment ... It's just very sad."

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 warned recreation around the city of Boulder is not advised because of air quality concerns.

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

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.