BOULDER, COLORADO - Nearly 3,000 people were forced to flee from a fast-moving fire in north-central Colorado, and authorities believe some homes were lost.
The CalWood Fire started around noon Saturday near the Cal-Wood Education Center, which is about 17 miles (27 kilometers) from downtown Boulder. It was pushed by strong winds. The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Mesa lab recorded gusts of 59 mph (95 kph) on Saturday.
More than 1,600 residences and nearly 3,000 people were under evacuation orders, including the small town of Jamestown, Boulder County officials said.
Based on the path of the fire, officials believe it is likely that multiple houses were lost, Mike Wagner, the Boulder County sheriff’s division chief, told the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder on Saturday.
On Sunday, Wagner said damage assessment teams haven’t been able to get into the area to determine how many homes were lost.
Shannon Kiss said smoke from the CalWood fire started seeping into her condo near Gunbarrel on Friday night, so she and her 14-year-old daughter taped up the doors and placed towels and blankets on the floor.
“We went outside and the ash was hitting our face,” she told The Associated Press on Sunday. “The wind was blowing and it felt almost like a windy rain, but it was ash hitting our face.”
On Saturday, they prepared to evacuate.
“We saw the huge, billowing smoke coming from the foothills,” she said. “I’ve seen (fires) in the distance in the mountains, but never a populated area. Never this close.”
But by Saturday evening, it was clear the fire wouldn’t force them from their home.
The fire had burned nearly 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) by Sunday morning, but more humid weather was expected to help fire crews.