19,000 forced to evacuate due to Colorado wildfire

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Authorities on Saturday issued an evacuation order for 19,400 people near a fast-moving Colorado wildfire in the hills south of the college town of Boulder, not far from the site from a destructive 2021 fire that razed more than 1,000 people. houses.

The wildfire was wind-fed earlier in the day and grew to 122 acres (49 hectares) without containment, Boulder Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Marya Washburn said. The Boulder Emergency Management Office said an overnight shelter was opened after evacuation orders covered 8,000 homes and 7,000 structures. No structure had been damaged.

Winds and temperatures have calmed down, Washburn said. Officials expect to deal with the blaze for several days due to the heavy fuels, said Brian Oliver, Boulder Fire-Rescue Wildland division chief.

The blaze is in an area where a fire destroyed 1,000 homes last year in unincorporated Boulder County and suburban Superior and Louisville. Senior city officials told residents in an email that there were no immediate concerns for the community.

The 2021 fire burned Alicia Miller’s home, where she could see smoke from Saturday’s fire billowing in the background. She posted a photo on Twitter and refers to climate change, which has made the American West hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, scientists say.

Miller said her neighbors helped her escape with her husband, Craig, their three adult sons and two dogs, Ginger and Chloe. She said the hardest losses from the fire were things they didn’t look at much, like baby shoes, family photos and letters from her grandmother.

“I feel exhausted from it all, and I’m sick of these fires and disasters,” she said. She pointed to a recent wildfire in Texas that killed a deputy and destroyed homes. “…So I’m here and it’s just kind of a rehearsal.”

Saturday’s fire began around 2 p.m. and burned protected wilderness land near the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder police said. Authorities called it the NCAR fire and its cause is not yet known, Washburn said.

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