At 1:40 a.m. Sunday, Boulder Police were alerted about a wildfire near Sunshine Canyon Drive and Timber Trail west of the popular Pearl Street Mall.
Over 1,000 homes have been notified within the mandatory evacuation zone in the Sunshine Canyon area, which will remain in place through the night. The 3,600 homes placed in the pre-evacuation zone will be asked to remain vigilant and ready to leave if necessary, according to Mike Wagner, spokesperson with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
Due to high temperatures and dry conditions from low humidity, a fire ban was placed on March 15 in Boulder County for areas west of Colorado State Highway 93, called Broadway in the metro Boulder area. Despite record-breaking March heat dry soil, firefighters from over 50 departments working to contain the fire were happy with their progress throughout the day.
“This is going to be a several-day event,” Wagner said about the fire. Boulder County police are encouraging people in the ares between 4th Street and Broadway, and between Sunshine Canyon Drive and Canyon Boulevard, to stay aware and be ready to leave throughout the night as well.
From her home on Canyon Boulevard, long-time Boulder resident Shannon woke up at 6:30 a.m. to the sight of flames engulfing the trees and brush that her dogs play in.
“I woke up and saw the fire and thought, ‘I shouldn’t leave my dogs,’” Shannon said. Having lived in Boulder since the 1970s, she has dealt with fires before, but none this close to home.
Since 1989, Boulder has witnessed five major fires, leaving over 16,000 acres and 260 structures in their wake of destruction. Most recently, the Cole Creek Fire burned 528 acres near Nederland in the summer of 2016.
Investigators were able to rule out natural causes, such as lighting, as the cause of the fire. They suspected it was man-made since the Centennial trail head and Sunshine Canyon area area “a very social area,” according to Wagner.
Curled up in his sleeping bag near Shannon’s home, Mike, who is homeless, said he awoke from a dream about a burning mountain only to see the flames jumping in the canyon below him.
“I woke up and thought, ‘I got to go get some pics,'” Mike said. He did not know of anyone camping in the area of the fire but he and others familiar with the area have said people have been know to illegally camp where the blaze started near the Centennial Trail head.
Boulder Police Department have reported no injuries or structural damage as a result of the fire.
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