A wildfire burning in the mountains just outside downtown Boulder, Colorado has forced more than a thousand residents to evacuate.
The fire ignited dead trees that exploded into black plumes of smoke on Sunday.
Wind pushed the flames in the wooded area a couple of miles west of Pearl Street, the shopping and dining heart of the university city’s downtown.
The fire was only about 62 acres and hadn’t caused any injuries or damaged structures by noon on Sunday, but strong gusts and warm and dry weather threatened to fan the flames.
Smoke rises from the wildfire after sunrise. There were no reports of injuries or damage to homes, emergency officials said.
The wildfire was first reported around 1.40am on Sunday to the west of Boulder, Colorado. Authorities have ordered over 1,000 to evacuated the area
Eight aircraft fought the wildfire: A US Forest Service heavy air tanker (pictured), a single-engine air tanker out of Fort Collins, two Chinook and two Blackhawk helicopters from the National Guard, plus one lead and one multi-mission aircraft
Bucket drop on the flames began around 8.30am on Sunday. The fire was roughly 20 per cent contained by noon
A National Guard helicopter drops water on the wildfire near Sunshine Canyon west of Boulder
Authorities made more than 1,000 calls to residents ordering them to evacuate and warned an additional 2,200 to get ready to leave if conditions worsened, said Gabi Boerkircher of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.
It wasn’t clear exactly how many houses or residents were evacuated because the calls could have gone to multiple people living in the same home and likely didn’t include children.
There were no reports of injuries or damage to homes, emergency officials said.
At least eight aircraft were making drops to battle the flames, and a community center has opened as an evacuation shelter.
The fire was at 20 per cent containment by noon Sunday, according to the Boulder OEM.
Officials were not sure how the fire started. It was first reported around 1.40am Sunday.
A firefighter walks near the flames on the south side of the Sunshine Fire near Boulder Canyon on Sunday
Seth Frankel, who has been warned that he and his family may need to evacuate, said he had packed up ‘generations of things’ that can’t be replaced and was ready to go if the air quality got worse.
He said smoke is pouring toward neighborhoods and many dead trees are combusting and sending black smoke into the air less than a half-mile from his home. But he and his wife, a Boulder native, and three daughters have dealt with fires and floods before.
‘It’s always alarming and always on your mind, but it’s not an uncommon sensation around here,’ said Frankel, who has lived in Boulder for 20 years.
He got word about the fire early Sunday from a neighbor who received a warning call and has been outside with neighbors watching the flames and smoke. But he let his daughters, 9, 11 and 13, get some more sleep.
‘It’s still alarming, but there’s no panic,’ Frankel said.
Boulder’s Pearl Street is the shopping and dining heart of the university city’s downtown. Wind was pushing the flames in the wooded area a couple of miles west, forcing evacuations (file)