A wildfire in Colorado raged on more than 8,700 parched, windswept acres on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes and businesses as wildfires continue to roil the state and the West. At least 20 homes were destroyed, and firefighters were able to contain the spread of the Cal Wood fire Sunday. Nearly 3,000 people had to flee the fast-moving fire, and some parts of northwestern Boulder County were evacuated. Authorities believe a large number of those homes were destroyed but no one was injured.
Tonight, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team will hand over fire command to a group of local, state and federal firefighters from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service. Communities across the state are preparing for and helping to recover from the fire.
The Boulder Valley School District announced that Gold Hill and Jamestown elementary schools will remain closed Monday because of the fire, but evacuation centers at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, Boulder City Hall and the University of Colorado Boulder will remain open. SERVPRO Greater Boulder is locally owned and operated by local businesses, and according to a press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE) and the Boulder Police Department, we are ready to assist residents and business owners of the University of Colorado and Colorado in emergencies caused by excessive water and flood damage. The Bouldertal School District press release states: Gold Hill, Jamestsown and the elementary school will all be closed Monday due to the wildfire in Boulder County. GoldHill and Jamestown Elementary schools will both be closed Monday because of a wildfire in Boulder County, the Boulder County news release said.
Residents of Estes Park had to close their roads out of the city because of a fast-growing wildfire on the eastern side of the Colorado River in Boulder County, the city said in a news release. Ridges Road, the main thoroughfare between the city and the University of Colorado Boulder, is closed indefinitely because of "severe fire damage," the news release said.
Colorado has had less than half of what the state normally gets over the past 30 days, and heat and drought have intensified and prolonged Colorado's fire season. According to the Colorado Climate Center, part of the US Department of Energy's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is not uncommon for wildfires to break out in Colorado at this time of year, but this fire is the first time wildfires have been reported in Boulder County in more than a decade. In Colorado, firefighters have burned about 1,000 acres, or about 2,500 acres of land, since the 1960s and 1970s, according to the CSU.
The estimated cost of the 2002 Colorado wildfire season, which covered more than 1,500 acres of fire damage in Boulder County, was about $1.5 million in insured damages, according to the Colorado Department of Insurance. The estimated insured losses this year accounted for about one-third of the total insurance costs in the state, totaling $2.8 million, or about 1 percent of all claims.
The Fourmile fire burned a total of 6,181 hectares and destroyed 165 homes and four other buildings in the mountains west of Boulder. Strong winds fueled the Logan, and the fire destroyed 15 buildings and killed hundreds of cattle. The September 2010 Four Mile Canyon Fire, which burned 169 homes and other personal belongings in the foothills north of Northwest Boulder, was previously one of Colorado's most destructive wildfires ever. The fire, caused by a re-emerging fire pit, destroyed 172 buildings, killed more than 1,000 people and was among the most devastating wildfires in Colorado at the time, according to the Colorado Department of Insurance.
The Logan Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burned more than 2,500 acres in the Rocky Mountain and Wyoming Wyoming regions, according to the Colorado Department of Insurance.
The Boulder County fire is one of several wildfires that began in October and spread significantly this month in an unusually late-season outbreak. Three large fires blazed in Colorado this week, joining three other large fires that have been burning for months. The fire was discovered early in the evening and crossed the US border, according to the Colorado Department of Insurance.
The Cameron Peak Fire is the largest wildfire in Larimer County and was only replaced by the 2012 High Park Fire, which burned more than 2,000 acres in Boulder County, Colorado. The 2013 Colorado wildfire, fueled by intense heat and winds, encompassed the second largest area in Colorado's history on July 5, 2013, breaking records for the most destructive. On July 6, 2014, the Cameron Peaks Fire became the largest wildfire ever recorded in Colorado, surpassing the Pine Gulch Fire, which burned 139,007 acres near Grand Junction in 2020. In July 2015, it also became the second-largest fire in Colorado forest fire history, surpassed by a fire similar in size to that that burned in 2012, according to the US Forest Service and Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). On June 14, 2016, a year after the fire broke out, the Cameron Peak Fire became the largest wildfire in California history, surpassing the Pine Gulches Fire (which ravaged 139,077 acres in Grand Valley, Utah, in 2013) and a wildfire similar to that that that burned in the Pueblo Valley in New Mexico in 2010.