Lefthand Fire breaks out 11 miles from Boulder, Colorado

Another fire near the front range of Colorado

Updated October 18, 2020   |    7:30 p.m. MDT

If you zoom in on the map above you will see the perimeters of both the Lefthand and the Calwood Fires. To make it easier to read you can remove the clutter by clicking on the box with three lines at top-right, then, Layers List. If you only want to see the fires themselves, un-click every layer except Incident Areas.

The Lefthand Fire has been mapped at 303 acres.

The fire was reported at about noon on Sunday. The DW5338 Nederland weather station south of the fire recorded 0.04″ of precipitation early Sunday morning, then the relative humidity remained above 80 percent until 1 p.m. These are not conditions that usually lead to the rapid spread of a vegetation fire. However, the area is in extreme drought, which has left the live and dead vegetation, the fuels, very dry. VERY DRY. So in spite of the small amount of rain, the desiccated fuels could still produce a fire that burned more than 300 acres. A few hundredths of an inch of rain may not have penetrated the tree canopies, leaving the ground fuels still very dry.

Those weather conditions help to explain the photo in the tweet below. If that really is ground fog in the drainage at lower-right, it’s very interesting. It is not common to see fog and a column of smoke from a 300-acre fire near each other at approximately the same elevation. Extreme drought helps to explain this.

If the weather Sunday had been hot, dry, and windy, the Lefthand Fire would still be hauling ass tonight.

Lefthand Fire tweet
Note what appears to be ground fog in the valley at lower-right.

But the weather is changing. At 7:13 p.m. Sunday the Nederland weather station recorded 53 degrees, 41 percent RH, and 5 mph winds out of the west-southwest gusting to 23.

The forecast for Ward just northwest of the fire, calls for westerly 30 mph winds Sunday night gusting to 48, with the relative humidity hovering around 50 percent. The winds will decrease somewhat on Monday to 16 mph with 27 mph gusts, still out of the west, with 22 percent RH. The conditions will be similar on Tuesday.

The short story is, unless firefighters were able to do some extraordinary work to contain the fire Sunday, we might be hearing much more about the Lefthand Fire.


Updated October 18, 2020   |   6 p.m. MDT

Calwood and Lefthand Fire
Map showing the proximity of the Calwood and the new Lefthand Fire.

Another fire has broken out near the front range of Colorado. The Lefthand Fire is east of Highway 72, 11 miles west-northwest of Boulder, and about a mile southeast of Ward.

The fire is in the 14,000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive.

An evacuation has been ordered for the town of Ward and the areas north of Ward, Gold hill and the 10,000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive. Included in the evacuation order are residents of Spring Gulch Road and Gold Lake Road.

The evacuation point is the Nederland Community Center, 750 CO-72, Nederland, CO 80466. Livestock should go to the Gilpin County Fairground 230 Norton Dr., Black Hawk CO 80422.

In addition to ground resources, a large air tanker was dispatched, followed later by the dispatch of three additional large air tankers and two very large air tankers (VLATs). Several single engine air tankers (SEATs) are also working the fire. It is not confirmed that the VLATs were actually available.

You can zoom in or out on the map below, which shows the reported location of the fire.

The fire is apparently named after the nearby Lefthand Canyon Drive and Lefthand Canyon.

We will post more information about the Lefthand Fire as it becomes available.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

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+

9 thoughts on “Lefthand Fire breaks out 11 miles from Boulder, Colorado”

  1. just a gut thought…if someone set the first fire and then walked far enough to set the second fire…and then walked far enough to set the third fire? seems like too much coincidence based on timing…looking from 2000 miles away…but I would be looking for a hiker? or a bicyclist? just seems strange to me being from an investigator background?

    1. It’s getting really concerning now that every new fire is looked upon as possible arson. A lot of paranoid people. Certainly human caused since we haven’t had lightning in a month.

      1. You contradict yourself – saying that it’s certainly human caused but calling those who believe it to be arson “paranoid”. What are you trying to say?

        1. Almost all fires are human caused except those started by lightning or volcanos. If someone is mowing their lawn and the blade hits a rock and sparks, a vehicle accident starts a fire, a cigarette is tossed, or if a trailer is dragging a chain generating sparks, those are human caused… along with dozens of other human-related ignition sources that start fires.

  2. I live near the fire area,elevation 8350. The area is extremely dry. For the last 4-5 days , the winds have blowing at these elevations non stop at greater than 30mph.
    I think its highly likely that these fires started due to power lines glitches, like the fires in California few years back.

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