NCAR Fire determined to be human-caused, no suspect identified

NCAR Fire 2_James Volk.jpg
Posted at 10:36 AM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 13:03:56-04

BOULDER, Colo. — Nearly a month after the NCAR Fire broke out in Boulder County, the sheriff’s office has determined it was human-caused, but they haven’t been able to nail down who caused it.

The precise location of the origin of the fire — initially thought to have been in the unincorporated Boulder County portion of the Boulder Open Space Mountain Parks — was determined to be inside the City of Boulder limits just a few feet off of the Bear Canyon Trail. Because the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office had been so heavily involved, they kept the case and collaborated with the city on the investigation.

The sheriff’s office reviewed over 20 tips from the public, examined potential video and photographic evidence and spoke to potential witnesses who had been on the trail that day while trying to determine the cause of the NCAR Fire.

Investigators determined the likely origin of the NCAR Fire was a "tiny" campfire, the sheriff's office confirmed on Friday. However, no associated campsite was found.

The sheriff’s office said it has exhausted all of its leads and is asking anyone with information on a possible suspect in this case to call the office at 720-564-2679 or email

Until the sheriff’s office receives any substantial leads, its investigation into the NCAR Fire will be inactivated.

The NCAR Fire was first reported around 2:15 p.m. on March 26 and grew to 190 acres. The fire forced thousands of people to evacuate, but nobody was injured and no structures were damaged.

It was fully contained on April 1.

Shortly after the fire, the city’s Open Space Board of Trusteescredited mitigation efforts like livestock grazing and forest thinning as being factors in helping slow the fire’s spread.