Wildfire Burns West of Boulder

Sunshine Fire causes evacuation of nearby houses

Crews battle the Sunshine Fire in the Sunshine canyon area of Boulder, Colo. on Sunday, March 19, 2017. The small wildfire forced people from their homes early Sunday and ignited dead trees that exploded into black plumes of smoke, authorities and residents said. (Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera via AP)

 

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Firefighters were able to contain about half of a small but potentially dangerous wildfire just west of downtown Boulder, Colorado, that forced hundreds to flee and sent up thick plumes of black smoke.

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 university city. Officials ruled out any lightning strikes or downed power lines, Wagner said.

The 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.

Wildfire Near Boulder About Half Contained

Residents of 426 homes under mandatory evacuation orders spent the night with friends and family or at the Red Cross shelter downtown. A decision on whether some might be able return wouldn’t be made until later Monday, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.

No structures were damaged by the 62-acre fire, though crews were spending the night focusing on protecting homes and monitoring the blaze’s perimeter. Officials worried that stronger wind gusts could fan the flames overnight, and residents of 836 homes were told to be ready to leave if conditions worsened.

“It’s always alarming and always on your mind, but it’s not an uncommon sensation around here,” said Seth Frankel, whose neighbor told him early Sunday about the fire less than