Evacuation orders issued for thousands after wildfires broke out near Boulder

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DENVER — Authorities issued evacuation notices Saturday to more than 8,000 homes near a 122-acre wildfire that is currently burning on open space near the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) facility in Boulder.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management said the fire near NCAR — dubbed the NCAR Fire — affected 19,000 people after evacuation messages were sent to residents within a quarter-mile radius of the fire. So far, no structures have been damaged.

The evacuation area includes portions of South Boulder downhill from the NCAR facility and the southwest area at Table Mesa. University of Colorado Boulder officials said they are also evacuating people from their southern campus.

Boulder County OEM

Pre-evacuation notices have also been issued and include residents living west of Hwy. 93, north of Eldorado Canyon State Park, east of Walker Ranch Open Space, and south of Greenbriar Boulevard.

This link will take you to the Boulder Emergency Operations Center’s updated evacuation map.

For information about NCAR fires in Spanish, visit the Boulder City’s Spanish-language Facebook page: @gobiernoboulderco.

The East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, serves as an evacuation point and will be a night shelter for evacuees. They are invited to go there for more information and resources. Pets are welcome.

A telephone hotline has also been set up to provide more information. The Boulder County Public Information Call Center number is (303) 413-7730. The hotline closes at 10pm on Saturday, but reopens at 9am on Sunday.

Firefighters said they are actively working in the Stony Hill neighborhood and south to protect homes as winds turn west and the fire spreads to the town of Boulder. They said their goal is to create a wet zone about 10 meters from houses as a barrier.

The NCAR fire was reported around 2 p.m. Saturday. It is estimated to be 122 acres in size and firefighters report 0% containment. There are currently no reports of loss of structures or injuries. The cause is unknown.

Colorado State Emergency Operations personnel said they are monitoring the NCAR Fire for calls for help. Government Jared Polis said state-contracted firefighting planes are on their way to the blaze. Other fire departments in the Denver area are sending resources to Boulder.

“We are grateful for the prompt action and response to this wildfire by our firefighters and first responders,” Governor Polis said in a statement. “Government officials spoke to Sheriff Pelle this afternoon and the state has deployed two firefighting aircraft, including a single-engine tanker and Type 2 helicopter, and stands ready to assist with the response. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation.”

Since Saturday night, a single-engine air tanker has added eight drops to the fire and a helicopter is being used to deliver water, the governor said.

A red flag warning and fire watch are in effect for most of the Front Range and eastern Colorado as gusts of wind and low humidity create dangerous fire conditions.

The wind played a major role in Saturday’s extinguishing activities. AirTracker7 created a video showing how fast the wind whips up the flames of the NCAR Fire. Watch in the player below:

AirTracker7 captures how fast the wind blew the NCAR fire

Just hours before the Boulder fire broke out, firefighters struggled with strong winds as they responded to several fires in the Denver area. A small grass fire near a Home Depot in Thornton closed short lanes of northbound Interstate 25 earlier Saturday. And firefighters said a lawnmower set off a small fire in Parker.

An air quality health advisory has been issued for the area due to smoke from the NCAR fire. The advisory expires at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Officials said Boulder residents should expect more smoke in the city as the fires begin to subside overnight.

Firefighters are hopeful that evening winds will ease and, combined with lower temperatures, help contain containment efforts through Sunday.

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