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NCAR Fire forces evacuation orders to thousands after wildfire breaks out near Boulder

Calmer winds Sunday expected to help firefighters with containment
Posted: 3:06 PM, Mar 26, 2022
Updated: 2022-03-27 12:13:24-04
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DENVER — The NCAR Fire is still burning Sunday but fire officials are optimistic calmer winds will help firefighters with containment.

Authorities on Saturday issued evacuation notices to more than 8,000 homes near a 122-acre wildfire currently burning on open space near the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) facility in Boulder.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management said the fire burning near NCAR — called the NCAR Fire — has affected 19,000 people after evacuation notices went out to residents within a quarter-mile radius of the blaze. So far, no structures have been damaged.

Late Saturday night, the evacuation zone was updated with an outer perimeter given the all clear to go home.

The evacuation area includes parts of south Boulder downhill from the NCAR facility and the southwestern area near Table Mesa. Officials with the University of Colorado Boulder said they were evacuating people from their south campus as well.

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Pre-evacuation notices have also been issued and include residents living west of Hwy. 93, north of Eldorado Canyon State Park, east of Walker Ranch Open Space and south of Greenbriar Boulevard.

This link will take you to the updated evacuation map from Boulder Emergency Operations Center.

Para obtener información sobre incendios de NCAR en español, visite la página de Facebook en español de la ciudad de Boulder: @gobiernoboulderco.

The East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, is serving as an evacuation point and will be an overnight shelter for evacuees. They are being invited to go there for more information and resources. Household pets are welcome.

There is also a phone hot line set up to provide more information. The Boulder County Public Information Call Center number is (303) 413-7730. The hotline will close at 10 p.m. Saturday but will be reopened at 9 a.m. Sunday.

'It's terrifying, it's like am I going to burn today?' NCAR Fire reopens fresh wildfire wounds in Boulder County

Firefighters said they are actively working in the Stony Hill neighborhood and south to protect homes if the winds shift west and cause the fire to spread toward the city of Boulder. They said their goal is to create a wet zone about 30 feet from homes as a barrier.

The NCAR Fire was reported sometime around 2 p.m. Saturday. It's estimated to be 122-acres in size and firefighters are reporting 0% containment. There have been no reports of loss of structures or injuries at this time. The cause is not known.

Staff from the Colorado State Emergency Operations said they are monitoring the NCAR Fire for resource requests. Gov. Jared Polis said state-contracted firefighting aircraft are en route to the fire. Other Denver-area fire agencies are sending resources to Boulder.

“We are thankful for the swift action and response to this wildfire by our firefighters and first responders," Gov. Polis said in a statement. "State officials have spoken with Sheriff Pelle this afternoon and the state has deployed two firefighting aircraft, including a single-engineer tanker and type 2 helicopter, and stands ready to assist with the response. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation." 

NCAR Fire update: Sunday should bring calmer winds for firefighters

As of Saturday evening, a single-engine air tanker has made eight drops on the fire and a helicopter is being used for water delivery, the governor said.

A red flag warning and a fire weather watch are in effect for most of the Front Range and Eastern Colorado as gusty winds and low humidity creates dangerous fire conditions.

The winds played a major role in Saturday's firefighting efforts. AirTracker7 captured video showing just how fast the wind whipped the flames of the NCAR Fire. Watch in the player below:

AirTracker7 captures just how fast the wind whipped the NCAR Fire

Just hours before the Boulder fire broke out, firefighters struggled with powerful winds as they responded to several fires around the Denver area. A small grass fire near a Home Depot in Thornton briefly shut down lanes on northbound Interstate 25 earlier Saturday. And firefighters said a lawnmower sparked a small fire in Parker.

An air quality health advisory was issued for the area due to smoke from the NCAR Fire. The advisory will expire 9 a.m. Sunday. Officials said residents of Boulder should expect to see more smoke in the city as the fire begins to settle overnight.

Firefighters are hopeful that winds will calm in the evening hours and, in combination with lower temperatures, help containment efforts going into Sunday.