Thursday’s winds came, but didn’t stay

In aftermath of Colorado's most destructive fire, a calm Friday.

| Sep 10, 2010

The predicted windstorm came Thursday night, whipping up 40-plus mph winds out of the west — but they didn’t last long. It appears the City’s warning of Thursday to prepare for possible evacuation was (shall we say) a bit overly alarmist. Friday morning, residents of various undamaged mountains areas were returning to their homes, while an army of firefighters continued to beat down the fire at its perimeter. [see one reader’s rebuttal comment below]

See images of the fire

Info sources


Our earlier updates (for the record)

— As of 1 p.m. Thursday, officials are concerned that, though 30 percent of the Fourmile Canyon fire’s fire line is now contained, winds accompanying a cold front expected to hit Colorado tonight could reenergize the fire.

— Officials this morning raised the total of homes listed as destroyed to 169 — the largest single-fire home destruction in recent Colorado history.

— City officials issued a media release at 2 pm Thursday urging residents west of Broadway to be alert for evacuation if possible high winds 6 p.m. through early morning hours push fire toward city. Read City release.

— As the media assembled for the 4 p.m. Wednesday briefing at the Justice Center parking lot, rain began falling slowly. Within 45 minutes, as the briefing ended, it began falling quite hard. This is the best possible news. Some 140 structures have now been destroyed, officials said at the briefing. Future briefing will be held at Boulder Reservoir, excluding the public. Several reporters from insurance-industry publications were among the crowd, as were a small number of displaced residents. Spokespeople declined to give a figure for containment but, judging from the skies, the two-day fire may be near its end.

— Wednesday afternoon the fears were that many more houses have burned. Tankers are flying. Press briefing upcoming at 4, meeting for affected residents and final press briefing later today. As of earlier today, authorities still spoke of “zero containment” of fire. Rain is possible this afternoon, but higher winds are possible for Thursday.

— The Tuesday 4 p.m. briefing revealed 63 structures were found destroyed over only the half of the fire area that was surveyed. Officials described the fire as zero-percent contained. The fire is still being aggressively fought on they ground, while planes with retardand and helicopters with water are bombarding the fire from above. In northwest Boulder, we’re hearing the noise as they pass overhead every few minutes as of 5 p.m. The smoke over Boulder is now very light for whatever reason — presumably a wind shift.

— At a 1:30 p.m. briefing Tuesday, Sheriff Joe Pelle and Governer Ritter revealed that the fire now covers 7,200 acres — twice its earlier announced size — and that 70 subdivisions have been evacuated. There was still no estimate of number of homes destroyed. Ritter declared, “This is still a very volatile fire.” Sheriff Pelle, his voice cracking, said: “We have literally exhausted our local resources. Pray for rain.”