Fire crews gained ground Sunday on a fast-moving wildfire that burned within 1,000 yards of homes a day earlier in Boulder, Colorado.
The blaze, which forced 19,400 residents to flee Saturday, was 21% contained Sunday morning, and most evacuation orders were lifted.
A quick initial attack “combined with all of the fuels mitigation treatments that we’ve done in this area is one of the reasons that we’ve had such great success,” incident commander Mike Smith said Sunday.
Fire crews used aircraft to fight the flames, laying down lines of fire retardant near homes in the rolling hills south of the college town, he said.
The site of the wildfire is not far from the location of a blaze that destroyed more than 1,000 homes last year. Residents were ordered to evacuate and stay off roads as firefighters manned the fire lines.
The evacuation area late Saturday covered about 1,700 people and 700 residences, a decrease from about 8,000 homes earlier in the day. The fire burned about 200 acres of dormant trees and dry grass.
The fire started Saturday at 2 p.m. No structures were damaged.
Winds and temperatures died down Saturday night, but officials expected the fire to burn 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.
Last year’s fire destroyed 1,000 homes in unincorporated Boulder County and suburban Superior and Louisville. Superior town officials told residents their community was not in any immediate danger from this weekend’s fire.
The fire brought back painful memories for some residents such as Alicia Miller, who lost her home during the blaze in 2021. She posted a photo on Twitter and referred to climate change, which has made the U.S. West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.
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“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 Texas wildfire that left a deputy dead and homes destroyed. “So I’m standing there and it’s just kind of a repeat.”
Fire crews are concerned about the upcoming fire season, Smith said.
“I think this is just a sign of the way things are going to go,” he said. “We continue to work on our planning processes. We continue to work on the team building and work with our partners to make sure that we’re as dialed as we can be. We’re feeling good, but we’re a little nervous about the upcoming season.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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