Thursday, January 8, 2009

Colorado: 1,400 homes evacuated near Boulder

Residents of the Dakota Ridge neighborhood watching the Neva fire near Boulder, CO on January 7, 2008. Denver Post photo by Jim Rettew.

At least two fires near Boulder, Colorado started Wednesday afternoon. Pushed by strong winds they burned thousands of acres and prompted the evacuation of at least 1,400 homes during the night. Another 11,000 homes were notified by reverse-911 calls to be prepared to leave if the fire moved closer to their communities.

This morning the evacuees are trickling back as the winds diminish after gusts over 100 mph were recorded west of Boulder and at Berthoud pass Wednesday afternoon.

Denver Post photo

The two fires are now being treated as one, named the Neva fire. It is 30% contained and has burned over "1,400 acres within a 3,600 acre perimeter".

At a briefing Thursday morning Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said:
"The fire is rapidly becoming more under control". And, "We're very optimistic that it will be 100% contained by this afternoon, unless the winds whip back up."
The evacuees included ex-FEMA head Michael Brown, famous for being praised by President Bush a few days after hurricane Katrina made landfall:
"You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie."
Investigators today expect to confirm that wind-downed powerlines started the fires.

A sign near the fire showing, uh, "Low" fire danger. Photo from Denver Post, by wisco1878

As of this morning, three houses and two large outbuildings have been destroyed.

The weather forecast for Thursday calls for highs near 60 degrees with winds out of the west at 10 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.

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