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This story was last updated on Sept. 12 at 11:42 a.m.
The Fourmile Canyon fire which began at 10 a.m. on Labor Day is blazing onward, engulfing 6,427 acres and forcing 3,000 residents to evacuate, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. At this point the fire is 73 percent contained. Many of those being forced to evacuate are CU students.
Boulder County is asking all residents who were evacuated to contact them, according to a news release. More information is available in the news release.
Some thought progress would be made as residents of Boulder Heights, Pine Brook Hills, Carriage Hills, Lee Hill Drive and Olde Stage Road were let back into those areas at 10 Thursday morning. But Boulder Office of Emergency Management recently announced that those areas will need to be re-evacuated at 2 p.m. Thursday due to high winds.
As of 9 a.m. on Friday the following subdivisions are opened again: Pine Brook Hills, Boulder Heights, Carriage Hills, Old Stage Road, Lee Hill Drive, Sunshine Canyon and Fourmile Canyon drives to Poorman Road (including Poorman Road); Gold Hill Road to Switzerland Trail (Switerland Trail remains closed);
Sugarloaf Road with limited access to the north (Mountain Meadows will be open); and Lefthand Canyon Road with restricted access from the south, according to the BOEM.
Power remains off in those areas and residents are encouraged to stay on alert. They will be asked to bring identification and should be ready to re-evacuate if necessary, according to the BOEM.
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Greg Leon is a 28-year-old graduate student in ms telecommunications who lives at Pine Brook Hills in Boulder. Leon said he saw a plume of smoke traveling over the ridge at 10 a.m. Monday morning.
“[It was] crazy, [I] went outside and saw the smoke covering the sun, which turned red,” Leon said. “Then smelled the fire as if we were sitting at a campfire. We just moved from Iowa and though we were aware of fires and I have been around them in the past, it was more surreal this time since I have a family now and more at stake.”
Leon said he was thankful they had plenty of time to evacuate as he said they did not receive the mandatory evacuation notice until 4 p.m. He said that he is worried about losing the house, especially because of the hand-made furniture that Leon and his father built.
Leon said his family is staying at a friend’s house in Denver and that he is commuting to Boulder, which is “not the best.”
“I already miss Boulder,” he said.
Tess Adams is a 19-year-old junior music education major whose family also lives in the Pine Brook Hills area, although Adams herself has a place nearer to campus.
Adams said she was concerned when she saw the smoke from Chautauqua so she went to call her parents.
“They said they were watching it on the news and had received an advisory evacuation notice,” Adams said. “Later, the reverse 911 calls were not working but I heard the mandatory evacuation notice for my neighborhood on the online police scanner… and they received a knock from a sheriff’s deputy as well. I watched all day from my house and listened to the news and the police scanner every hour.”
Adams said it was a scary situation.
“It felt surreal, because people in Boulder were still going about their business as if nothing was happening, despite the huge cloud of smoke in the air,” she said. “It was stressful to wait to see if our evacuation order would become mandatory, and with the reverse 911 calls not working it was even more scary.”
Adams said that although her family has been put on alert for fires before it has never been of this magnitude.
“We have gotten evacuated for forest fires quite a few times in the past, but usually it is more of a precaution and very few homes, if any, get burned,” Adams said. “To have a fire of this magnitude is different and feels more real, and my thoughts are with friends who have already lost their houses, and with all the people working to stop the fire. I am glad the winds and the heat have died down, and I am just hoping that the fire will stop spreading and can be put out quickly.”
Adams said her parents as well as their family cat and hamster are currently staying with her in an extra bedroom in the house she rents nearer to campus.
John Forster, a 28-year-old senior film studies major, said he decided to evacuate his house in Boulder Heights before it became mandatory.
“I went outside and saw the huge smoke plume coming over the house,” Forster said. “I turned on the news and saw the whole fire thing going down, so I decided to pack up and leave before it became mandatory.”
Forster said the fire for him is particularly difficult because he was also affected by the Old Stagecoach road fire in 2009.
“My first thought was ‘oh my god,’” Forster said. “I was also affected by the Old Stage Coach fire so I guess I was a little bit panicked, like I ‘gotta get out of here right now’ so I just grabbed everything I could and left as quick as I could.”
Forster said he managed to grab basic traveling supplies as well as his external hard drive and laptop, but that he wished he could have gotten more. He said he worries most about going back and finding that his house will no longer be there.
Forster said that last night he stayed with a friend and he does not know where he’ll end up for tonight.
“Last night I stayed at a friends house and now it’s just kinda up in the air,” he said. “I’m hoping they’ll open it up again. I might stay at a hotel, I might stay in the shelter, I don’t know.”
Forster said despite his uncertainty he is trying to remain optimistic.
“I’m really glad the firefighters are doing their job the best they can,” he said. “I really hope they’re able to contain it as soon as they can.”
Adams said her thoughts are with her friends and family in the area.
“I am most concerned for everyone’s houses, all my friends and neighbors,” she said. “Since I grew up in Boulder I have a lot of friends who have lost houses and whose houses are in danger. I am glad that everyone and their animals were evacuated effectively last night. My dad is still up at our house, watching for spot fires from falling cinders. He was a firefighter so he knows what to do and when to leave, but he is up there to watch for the spot fires and stay with the house as long as possible because once you leave you cannot go back up.”
Leon said he is extremely grateful the emergency personnel are working so hard.
“As everyone in the area must feel, we are grateful to the emergency personnel for all of their hard work and dedication to mitigating the damage from the fire,” he said. “These groups and agencies need more funding and assistance from the community, we should not let tragedies like this remind us of this.”
CU released a news release letting students, faculty and staff affected by the fire know of the services available to them. CU is offering assistance with housing, textbook loans and counseling services.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Ellie Bean at Beanee@colorado.edu.