CO Firefighters To Step Up Attack On Boulder Blaze

by
staphni
Firefighters ramped up their fight Tuesday against a wildfire that forced about 3,000 people to flee their homes as the wind-whipped blaze filled the surrounding canyon with heavy smoke and spit flames. The 3,500-acre fire in the foothills outside Boulder has destroyed dozens of homes, according to a fire marshal, including some that belonged to firefighters. No injuries have been reported. Calmer winds were in the forecast and authorities planned to dump two to three times the amount of fire retardant from the air than they did Monday, when gusty winds grounded air tankers for much of the day, Boulder County sheriff's Cmdr. Rick Brough said. Brett Haberstick, a fire marshal with the Sunshine Fire Protection District, said Monday that the fire destroyed dozens of homes, but Brough had no details Tuesday on exactly how many may have been lost. The blaze broke out in Four Mile Canyon northwest of Boulder and rapidly spread across 5 1/2 square miles or 3,500 acres. Erratic 45-mph gusts sometimes sent the fire in two directions at once. Brough said there is no indication it was intentionally set. Crews managed to save the historic town of Gold Hill, including an old West grocery store and structures once used for stagecoach stops. But firefighters in the area had to relocate their engines and equipment several times to avoid the flames. Four homes belonging to firefighters were destroyed. Those firefighters were allowed to leave to attend to their families and personal affairs, said Laura McConnell, a spokeswoman for the fire management team. Nancy Engellenner and her husband Philip Helper assume their house was lost because so much was destroyed in the surrounding area. "The way the wind was, it was just spitting flames everywhere," Engellenner said. Resident David Myers also feared his house burned after he fled. At one point, he said heavy smoke obscured flames from the fire but he could still hear it. He described the sound as a cross between a freight train and a l