Fire evacuees allowed back near Colorado college townMarch 21, 2017 12:34am

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Hundreds of residents were allowed to return to their homes in the foothills just outside this university city on Monday as firefighters make progress against a wildfire possibly sparked by transient campers in the area.

The fire spread to about 70 acres, but firefighters fully contained it Monday afternoon by building lines to stop it from spreading. Winds were forecast to be a bit lighter than when the fire broke out on Sunday, helping crews mop up hot spots and control flare-ups overnight.

Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Wagner said the blaze may be human-caused and that hikers and transient campers frequent the area where it erupted — a wooded, mountainous place a couple of miles from Pearl Street, the shopping and dining hub in the heart of the home of University of Colorado. Officials ruled out any lightning strikes or downed power lines, and Wagner said investigators were working to pinpoint exactly where it started.

Last year another wildfire in the county was accidentally started by two men camping in the mountains who didn't fully put out their campfire. It destroyed eight homes near the small town of Nederland.

Resident Anne Shusterman said the vast majority of people camping around the area are those who chose to live without a home, not people who have fallen on hard times and have no other choice. She said she no longer feels safe running along trails because of them and worries about the fire danger posed by them in tinder-dry conditions.

"I don't know what it's going to take for this city to wake up," said Shusterman, who lives near the fire and woke up to find heavy smoke around her home Sunday.

The latest fire started in the Sunshine Canyon area, which is dotted with expensive homes and rustic mountain residences. Dead trees exploded and sent black smoke skyward.

Residents of 426 homes were ordered to evacuate and people who live in over 800 others were told to be ready to leave if conditions worsened.

Officials worried that stronger wind gusts could fan the flames overnight. Residents of 836 homes were told to be ready to leave if conditions worsened but high winds did not develop.

No structures have been damaged.

Although Colorado's mountain snowpack is healthy — ranging from 105 to 130 percent of normal on Monday — most of the state's eastern half, including the populated Front Range, is experiencing some degree of drought. Many local governments have enacted fire bans after weeks of warm, dry and often windy weather during what is normally one of the snowiest months of the year.

Wagner said conditions seemed more like what might normally be found in June rather than March.

Firefighter Jason Morley told the Daily Camera newspaper that the conditions on Sunday were brutal.

"I've never seen if like this before," he said. "There is no snow at all up there. If you picked up grass, it would just crumble in your hands."

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Macomb County Commissioner Candice Miller talks to the media before the demolition of a home in Fraser, Mich. is demolished Friday, March 24, 2017. The work comes in the wake of a drain interceptor collapse on Christmas Eve that caused a large sinkhole. Three houses near the sinkhole have been condemned. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP)
2 homes being demolished at suburban Detroit sinkhole site
Officials: Pilot dead in small plane crash in Atlanta suburbAuthorities say a small plane has crashed into a subdivision in the northern Atlanta suburbs, killing the pilot and setting a house ablaze
Officials say Kansas blaze caused $23M to $25M in damageOfficials in a Kansas City suburb where a fire destroyed a multimillion-dollar apartment building under construction and spread to about two dozen homes estimate the blaze caused between $23 million and $25 million in damage
Gary Mask, a member of Victory Lighthouse Pentecostal, picks up debris around the church after Friday night's storm in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Staci Vandagriff/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
Storms destroy church, homes in week of turbulent weather
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA investigate the cause of the crash of a Cessna Citation I, Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Kennesaw, Ga. The small plane crashed into a suburban Atlanta neighborhood Friday evening, killing the pilot and setting a house ablaze, officials said. The plane, on its way from Wilmington, Delaware, to Fulton County Airport, crashed next to a house and exploded, Cobb County Fire Department spokeswoman Denell Boyd told reporters. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Investigators recover data recorder in Georgia plane crash
Clarence Williams listens to Judge Ernest Caposela during his hearing in Paterson, N.J., Friday, March 24, 2017. Williams and Gerry Thomas have been charged with murder in a double homicide involving a burning car owned by a woman who often appears on "Real Housewives of New Jersey."   (Aristide Economopoulos /NJ Advance Media via AP, Pool)
Melee in court in case tied to 'Real Housewives' guest
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices