Boulder Fire Update
The city of Boulder, Colorado, is undergoing major recovery efforts after the devastating Boulder fire. The NCAR fire started at around 2 p.m. on Saturday, near the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Boulder police have called the blaze the NCAR fire. The cause of the blaze remains unknown. Associated Press photographer Damian Dovarganes contributed to this article. The fire’s impact is being measured in terms of damage and loss of life.
Boulder 2700 Fire
A week after the Boulder 2700 Fire began, the blaze is still raging. It had scorched over 2,300 acres near Montana Highway 35 in the Finley Point area, destroying 31 structures, including homes. Police are searching for a suspect, Craig Allen McCrea, who is accused of setting the fires. Police have recovered a package of cigarettes found near the fire’s beginning and DNA from a straw used to inhale drug vapors. A warrant was issued for the cellular data of a woman who said she was with McCrea when he started the fires.
The fire has now burned over 1,800 acres in an area east of Polson. Residents remain evacuated along Highway 35, but some have been allowed to return home. Residents south of Finley Point to mile marker 13 remain evacuated. However, residents of the neighborhood between Mile Marker 2 and mile Marker 13 are being permitted to return home. In the meantime, the Montana Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter at Linderman Elementary School in Polson.
The Boulder 2700 Fire has reached Stage I and continues to threaten homes. The area south of Mahood Lane and Ski Doo Creek is also under mandatory evacuation orders. Property owners between mile markers nine and eleven on Highway 35 should plan for evacuations. As of Thursday, the fire is estimated to be 2,072 acres in size and is 36% contained. As of Tuesday, it has destroyed eight primary and seventeen secondary structures. The evacuation order is in place until further notice.
The Boulder 2700 Fire continues to burn in timber understory and litter. Fuels above 100 hours are wet and will take some time to become critically dry. Firefighters are building control lines and clearing vegetation in Division A to protect against fire spread. A TBR is in effect from Boulder Creek to Station Creek. The temporary flight ban also applies to drones. Those wishing to fly over the fire perimeter should follow the restrictions.
University of Colorado Boulder’s South Campus
The National Weather Service is warning of a critical wildfire threat to the Denver metro area on Friday and advised people to avoid sparking activities. Despite this, only one wildfire was reported on the metro area since 2010, though there have been a few instances further south. On Tuesday, the Boulder City Council will discuss disaster resilience, with a goal of making the entire city more prepared for future natural disasters.
The University of Colorado has proposed building housing on some of the lands surrounding the campus to accommodate staff and students. This plan needs city approval, but the university has already agreed to provide the necessary housing to accommodate the population growth. The project will require approval of the city council and Open Space Board of Trustees. Nevertheless, a forced referendum is likely, given the organized opposition to the development of CU South.
Although fire is a dangerous force, it can also benefit our environment. Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks mimic fire’s natural processes by applying prescribed burns and managing weeds. They also enforce rules against fire in open space. And when wildfires do occur, they work in collaboration with other public land agencies to protect the area. In addition, they hire fire fighters with the expertise to respond to wildfires and prevent further damage.
As of Jan. 19, the University’s residence halls will remain closed until the new move-in date of Jan. 21. Room and board rates will be reduced and other fees will be pro-rated, to account for two weeks of remote instruction. Residential students living off-campus are encouraged to postpone their return to campus until January 21st. The University’s emergency response team will work with students and families to ensure that their needs are met.
The NCAR Fire continues to grow and rage in the open space near the National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR, in Boulder. The Boulder Office of Emergency Management has issued evacuation orders and updated the evacuation zone. As of late Saturday night, firefighters had managed to contain the blaze to only about half its original size. However, there is no immediate word on whether or not structures in the neighborhood are threatened.
Eldorado Canyon State Park closed
A fast-moving wildfire is forcing the closure of a popular Colorado State Park, Eldorado Canyon State Park. Boulder firefighters are spraying water on a grassy hill above a residential area to fight the fire. Boulder Police Department tweeted that there were 86 people and seven dogs injured in the fire. Eldorado Canyon State Park is closed indefinitely, while the nearby NCAR Fire is burning near the town of Boulder.
The Boulder Fire is moving south, but it is not moving toward the city. It is now 30 feet away from homes, with fire crews stationed near Stony Hill Drive southeast of NCAR. Fire officials said the fire came within a tenth of a mile of homes, but it was not dangerous to any homes. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire appears to be out of control.
The NCAR Fire is burning 123 acres of land with zero containment. It began in the Bear Creek drainage area on Saturday afternoon, and has doubled in size since the last update. While there are no homes currently threatened by the fire, residents should be vigilant when returning to the area. The fire is expected to continue to burn for several days, and no homes are currently at risk. Residents are encouraged to make a quick return home if they can.
Trails in popular hiking area near Flatirons reopened
A popular hiking area near Boulder was closed after a wildfire impacted the area, but the trails in the Chautauqua Park have now reopened. Hikers can take in stunning views of the Flatirons while enjoying the scenic trails. The Chautauqua Meadow trail provides excellent views of the Flatirons and loops through a scree field. It ends at a notch between the second and third Flatirons.
The NCAR Fire was a large blaze that consumed about 190 acres of land in Boulder County. It started near the National Center for Atmospheric Research and burned in partially steep terrain. No structures or people were affected. Hundreds of people took advantage of the nice weather to hike the area, and the trails around the Flatirons were reopened. The fire is 35 percent contained and firefighters are confident that the fire will remain contained.
There are two different hiking routes to access the Flatirons. The first is the 1st Flatiron trail, which stretches about a mile and ends at the angled outcrop of the second. From here, you’ll have a good view of the town of Boulder and the surrounding mountains. There are free shuttles available from Chautauqua Park to the Flatirons.
If you’re planning a trip during the winter season, you may want to bring your microspikes and waterproof boots. It is important to note that the weather can change rapidly in the mountains. You should also take layers of clothing, a rain or wind jacket, and waterproof footwear. You’ll want to watch out for sudden thunderstorms and slippery rocks. You can also try to climb on the rocky terrain while avoiding rocks and other obstacles.
The Marshall Mesa trails will reopen Friday after the Marshall Fire. After the fire, the city closed the trailheads for that area, but they’ve been repaired and are ready to be used again. Hikers should remember to be vigilant about fire and flood hazards. And remember to bring plenty of water! Check to see if any of the trails have reopened before heading out.