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Thousands evacuated as wildfires ravage parts of Colorado, 26 homes lost

Posted at 5:57 AM, Oct 19, 2020

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A large area of Boulder County, including the towns of Jamestown and Ward, are under a mandatory evacuation order after two new wildfires sparked over the weekend.

The 8,788-acre Calwood Fire started Saturday and is burning near the Cal-Wood Education Center in the Jamestown area. Officials Sunday night confirmed that 26 homes were lost to the fire, so far, mostly on the eastern side of the fire along Mountain Ridge Drive and Foothills Ranch Drive. No injuries were reported.

The Calwood Fire was about 15% contained as of Sunday night. The most concerning area of the fire was the northern ridge of the fire area, due to the steep, rocky terrain and dry fuels, officials said.

On Sunday, a new wildfire, dubbed the Lefthand Canyon Fire, started in the 14000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive near the town of Ward. It has charred 312 acres as of Sunday night. Crews were still battling the fire Sunday but had contained the blaze north of Lefthand Canyon Drive.

Smoke from both fires can be seen throughout most of Boulder and the surrounding area.

The Boulder County fires prompted authorities to send out pre-evacuation notices to thousands of residents nearby, including people in the town of Lyons. In the Calwood Fire, there are 1,600 homes and 2,600 structures total in the evacuation area, and around 3,000 people impacted.

Several roads are closed, including County Road 87, and officials evacuated Hall Ranch and Heil Valley trails.

The map below shows the areas under an evacuation or pre-evacuation order:


There is an evacuation check-in point for the Calwood Fire set up at 3460 N. Broadway where evacuees and pets can go to check-in and receive further information.

The evacuation point for the Lefthand Canyon Fire is the Nederland Community Center, 750 Peak to Peak Hwy.

Boulder County Sheriff Division Chief Mark Wagner said the number of homes lost or damaged in the fire is likely "very large."

Wagner said a massive air attack Saturday helped contain the Calwood Fire. However, unfavorable weather conditions Sunday grounded aircraft. At least 250 firefighters are on the ground fighting the blaze.

The Calwood Fire has become Boulder County's largest wildfire on record.

County and Forest Service investigators are investigating the cause of the Calwood Fire. Wagner said there was no lightning strike data in the area which could rule out a natural cause for the fire.

This story was originally published by Robert Garrison on KMGH in Denver.