Fast-moving wildfire near Boulder, CO burns a fire truck and thousands of acres

UPDATE @ 9:00 p.m., Sept. 6

CBS4 in Denver is reporting that  four of the firefighters who were working on the fire lost their homes in the blaze, according to Laura McConnell of the fire’s Incident Management Team. After they were notified, they were released from the fire.

CBS4 also reports that the fire has burned 3,500 acres. The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center reported at 7:45 p.m. that the fire had burned 3,000 acres and 12 structures.

There is another time-lapse video of the fire HERE.


UPDATE @ 6:21 p.m., Sept. 6

According to Boulder Channel 1 news, the Fourmile fire near Boulder started when a propane truck crashed in Fourmile Canyon.

Sometime after 5 p.m. today the winds decreased enough to allow the first air tankers to be dispatched to the fire. They had been staged at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, waiting for weather conditions that would allow them to safely attack the fire.

Fourmile fire near Boulder air tanker drop
After 5:00 p.m. on Monday, air tankers were first able to work the fire after the strong winds decreased. Photo: Graham Stewart


UPDATE @ 5:00 p.m., Sept. 6

Here is 17-second time-lapse video showing 6 minutes of fire activity on the Fourmile fire near Boulder, Colorado.

Fourmile fire map
This satellite photo of the Colorado shows smoke from the Fourmile fire being pushed by a strong west wind, at 4:50, 9-6-2010.


UPDATE @ 4:20 p.m., Sept. 6

The maps below of the Fourmile fire near Boulder show heat that was detected by the MODIS satellite earlier today.

Map of the Fourmile fire near Boulder
Map of the Fourmile fire northwest of Boulder, showing heat detected by a satellite in the afternoon of Sept. 6, 2010

Map of the Fourmile fire near Boulder
Map of the Fourmile fire northwest of Boulder, showing heat detected by a satellite on Sept. 6, 2010. Click to see a larger version.

A Division Supervisor on the fire just said on the radio that he was withdrawing his fire resources due to the fire activity, and was having to relocate them to another area. He also said:

The fire is heading down drainage at a very high rate of fuel consumption.

Denver Channel 7 has live video of smoke from the fire.


UPDATE @ 3:40 p.m., Sept. 6

Smoke plume as seen from Glacier Lake
The Fourmile fire smoke plume as seen from Glacier Lake, 9-6-2010. Photo: Erinn Pagratis

The Fourmile fire  northwest of Boulder, formerly known as the Emerson fire, is still very active and has burned 2,200 acres, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Radio traffic we just heard from a firefighter used the phrase “multiple heads, multiple fires” and said he was pulling all of his resources out of his area and placing them in a staging area due to the fire activity and the lack of situational awareness, not knowing where the fire is. Due to the strong winds, they still do not have any aircraft over the fire providing intelligence to the firefighters on the ground. Two heavy air tankers, T-45 and T-25, have arrived at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport along with a lead plane, and are waiting for the winds to decrease before they can take action.

Multiple structures have burned, but fire officials are unsure how many.


UPDATE @ 2:08 Sept. 6

A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered for the Emerson Fourmile fire northwest of Boulder, and two heavy air tankers are in route. The strong winds have grounded the aircraft, but there was a recent report on the radio that the winds have slowed down.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management is reporting that the fire has burned 200 acres and that about 100 structures are currently threatened. Their web page has information about the areas affected by evacuation orders.

In a 1 p.m. press conference Boulder County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Rick Brough confirmed that a fire truck and one structure have been destroyed. The fire was first reported near Emerson Gulch Road and Four Mile Canyon Road.

Andrew Hyde has taken a lot of photos of the fire.


UPDATE @ 1:24 p.m. Sept. 6

Emerson fire near Boulder
Fourmile fire near Boulder. Photo: ZenPhiloBashal

The name of the fire northwest of Boulder is Emerson Fourmile . It was first reported as a smoke check at 10:07 a.m. this morning. HERE is a link to a map of the Emerson Fourmile fire’s first reported location.

This map shows the location of the first report of the fire near Boulder; click on it to see a larger version:

map of Emerson or Fourmile fire near boulder
Map of the fire near Boulder, showing the location of the first report of the fire.

HERE is a link to a photo showing the smoke from the fire, taken from Coors Field during a Reds vs. Rockies baseball game.


Boulder fire
Fire in Four Mile Canyon, northwest of Boulder, Sept. 9, 2010; photo by smdjef

A fire that started this morning around 10 a.m. in Four Mile Canyon northwest of Boulder, Colorado is growing very quickly. CBS4denver is reporting that a fire truck has been destroyed and several structures have burned.

The smoke from the fire is showing up on satellite photos and weather radar. The smoke on the photo and radar is moving very quickly to the east, and apparently is pushed by a strong west wind. The spot weather forecast for the fire area that was issued at 11:15 a.m. today predicts downslope winds of 10-20, gusting up to 30 mph. There is also a chance that the wind direction will switch 180-degrees between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., and then switch back to west again, which could complicate things for firefighters.

Radio traffic from the Boulder County Fire frequency indicates that evacuations are in progress. Here is a link to some web cams in the Boulder area, some of which have views of the fire’s smoke. KDVR has some photos submitted by viewers.

We will update this information about the fire as it develops.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

13 thoughts on “Fast-moving wildfire near Boulder, CO burns a fire truck and thousands of acres”

  1. Weather looks tough!!!

    Lat: 39.91 Lon: -105.12 Elev: 5656
    Last Update on Sep 6, 1:45 pm MDT

    Clear and Breezy

    77 °F
    (25 °C)
    Humidity: 3 %
    Wind Speed: W 23 G 35 MPH
    Barometer: 29.95″
    Dewpoint: -9 °F (-23 °C)
    Heat Index: 75 °F (24 °C)
    Visibility: 45.00 m

  2. Thanks for this – where can I go to get more updated versions of the MODIS heatmap? I live along Boulder Canyon and am less than a mile from the area where there is mandatory evacuations…

    1. You’re welcome. And, our hearts go out to all who have lost their homes in this fire, including the four firefighters.

  3. Thank you for your work on this website… please keep the updates coming. A lot of us are checking this regularly.

  4. please continue to keep us posted. As it has gotten dark, it is even harder to tell how far away the blaze is and how fast it is moving.
    Maps of the affected area would be great!

  5. Thank you for the information and this website. I have family that lives near Boulder St. and Main St. in Gold Hill, fortunately they safely evacuated this afternoon. Though we still are lacking any definitive information on the status of the town of Gold Hill, the information from this site has helped me keep them as up to date on what’s going on as possible, a truly valuable tool.

  6. In the fire business (we-fire fighters) know that there is a “day” during the fire season that IF you get “start” it is going to be bad. This was that “day”. This is an emotional meltdown for those involved. Darn-it! Thanks again Wildfire Today for your outstanding involvement in keeping people informed.

  7. I lived in Boulder for over 30 years and lived in the foothills during the ’89 Black Tiger fire. I am grieving with all of folks whose homes are lost and all of the four legged and winged critters whose habitat is now gone. Down here in S.A., TX we have the opposite problem. Torrential rains, flooding, high winds taking out trees by their roots. Life.

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