Seemingly out of nowhere, the Cal-Wood fire exploded mid-day Saturday northwest of Boulder.
By the end of the evening, Boulder officials reported that 1,646 homes had been evacuated and 7,046 acres had been consumed.
“We do believe multiple multiple homes were probably lost,” Mike Wagner, Division Chief with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said a 9:15 p.m. news conference, “Although it is still too active of a fire scene and it is still too dynamic to get in and even assess where those home may have been damaged or lost.”
Wagner said it was too early to determine a cause.
“We did check the lighting-strike indicator,” he said. “There’s no indication that it was weather-related or caused by lighting, which would at least preliminary rule out natural causes, but that is still under investigation. “
Crews will be working overnight. Tomorrow, Warner said, “The plan is to have air resource, a number of them come in and try to hit the fire really hard in the morning, while the weather’s good before it’s forecasted to have the winds pick up.
In addition to nearly 2,000 homes, 2,621 out-buildings and a total of 2,984 people were affected.
At 12:15 p.m., Boulder County officials reported that there was a fire near the Cal-Wood Education Center just outside Jamestown. In less than an hour, the 300 residents of Jamestown were being evacuated.
Gabi Boerkircher, Public Information Officer for the Boulder County Emergency Management, said Saturday evening that while many people went through the evacuation check-in, “we only ended up needing three couples or six people needed to be sheltered.”
It wasn’t just people fleeing their homes in the foothills.
“Our fairgrounds, where we’re housing livestock right now, is pretty much full, they’ve told us it’s the most animals they’ve seen, even more than the flood in 2013,” she said.
Boerkircher said Boulder officials were working with Jefferson County, for them to open their fairgrounds for livestock. The Jefferson County horse evacuation team was assisting, she said.
She said that “roads that are marked as closed on our (evacuation) map are actually passable, but are only to be used for evacuations. Nobody will be let in, but they’re all passable to get out.”
Boerkircher said she was still waiting for information on damage and cause.
“We probably won’t know the cause for awhile, it’s usually something that takes awhile to determine.”
County Road 87, Heil Valley Ranch and Hall Ranch were all closed a the fire broke out and OEM tweets advised people to avoid the area to allow first responders room to work.
Later road closures included U.S. 36 between Broadway on the north end of Boulder to Colorado 7; South St. Vrain Drive and South St. Vrain Drive between the Peak to Peak Highway and Lyons,
The Colorado Department of Transportation advised travelers to avoid Boulder and Larimer counties because of road closures and the need to evacuate residents.
Meanwhile, several other fires continued to burn across the state.
Middle Fork fire
North of Steamboat Springs, about 140 firefighters are battling the Middle Fork wildfire, which has been burning for more than a month. The fire grew more than 100 acres Friday and is at 19,885 acres, according to fire officials.
East Troublesome fire
Multiple evacuation orders are in effect as fire crews work to contain the East Troublesome fire north of Hot Sulphur Springs, according to Inciweb.gov. Steady 20 mph winds pushed the fire east toward Highway 125, the website reported. The fire has burned 11,329 acres since it started Oct. 14.
Wild Horse fire
Milder winds Saturday enabled Fort Carson fire crews keep the Wild Horse fire at 70% containment. The fire, which ignited Oct. 12 along Colorado Highway 115, has held at 670 acres, according to a Fort Carson spokesman.