Posted: Sep 9, 2010 5:04 PM by Greg Boyce
Updated: Sep 9, 2010 5:27 PM
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Some Boulder residents are being told to prepare to evacuate in case a fire burning in the foothills spreads into the city. The city is asking some west side residents to clear things like lawn furniture and propane tanks and to mow tall grass to cut down on potential fuel for the fire.
Containment lines have been built around 30 percent of the wildfire near Boulder, but firefighters warn that progress could be undone if sparks jump the lines. Winds are expected to reach 60 mph in the area today. Authorities have canceled plans to allow some evacuees back into their homes.
Authorities have also told some people who were allowed to go back to their homes that they wll have to leave their homes again by Thursday night. Winds could blow embers from the fire up to a half mile, meaning it would be virtually impossible to guarantee the safety of those downwind from the fire. All those missing in the fire have now been accounted for. About 3,500 people have been out of their homes for four days. The fire has destroyed 169 houses.
Fire rushed over a Gold Hill ridge Monday and chased Chris Finn's crew of volunteer firefighters - his neighbors and friends - through the small town to se ek shelter down another hillside. The flames rushed to within about an eighth of a mile of the old town area, where Finn's family restaurant is a popular gathering place and historic buildings are snuggled along Main Street.
"I thought it was last time I would see Gold Hill," he said, emotion catching at his words. "That fire was chasing us," the fire chief of the Gold Hill Fire Protection District said Thursday, recalling flames that stretched 20 to 30 feet skyward. The wind shifted direction and a tanker dropped its load right outside of town and that, Finn said, was the deciding moment that spared Gold Hill and its volunteer firefighters from the Fourmile Canyon Fire, the most destructive fire in state history.
The volunteer chief said he is worried about residents who are trying to sneak back into evacuated areas. "My big message I have to get out to my citizens is please
don't come back until the sheriff asks you to," he said, adding that those who are sneaking in are disrupting firefighters' ability to work.