Colorado wildfire prompts evacuation of 200 homes
Friday, March 11, 2011
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A wildfire driven by dry, windy weather scorched at least 200 acres Friday in the foothills west of Boulder, prompting the evacuation of roughly 200 homes.
An air tanker from New Mexico started dropping fire retardant on the flames by afternoon as wind gusts that had reached 60 mph eased to between 20 and 30 mph.
About 100 firefighters also battled the blaze, which was burning near an area where a wildfire charred nearly 10 square miles and destroyed 169 homes in September.
Maribeth Pecotte of the U.S. Forest Service said the fire had grown to between 200 and 300 acres and was threatening 12 structures, none of which were homes. No buildings have been damaged.
The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning, meaning the fire danger was high, along the Interstate 25 corridor and across much of eastern Colorado.
“When I saw the news this morning saying we were under red flag warnings, that always gets my hackles up a little bit,” Pecotte said, “because whenever we’ve had these big fires, it’s under red flag conditions.”
The fire first reported late Friday morning was burning in pine trees and grasses. The cause isn’t known.
The American Red Cross set up a site for evacuees to get information at a YMCA in Boulder.
Tamar Stone, who has lived in the Boulder area for nine years, said this was the first time she has had to leave her home because of a wildfire.
“An officer actually came walking down my driveway, and I had a bad feeling,” Stone said. “I said, ’This doesn’t look good.’ He said, ’Yeah, you gotta go.’”
Crews also were battling a smaller wildfire in nearby Lyons.
Elsewhere, firefighters were quick to suppress a wildfire that damaged two homes and charred an estimated 20 acres in central New Mexico.
The fire started Friday southeast of Tajique and burned grass, juniper and pinon before crews were able to contain it. Its cause wasn’t immediately known.