Report released for the Marshall Fire which destroyed 1,056 structures southeast of Boulder, Colorado

Marshall Fire FLA

On the morning of December 30, 2021 the Marshal Fire ignited south of Boulder, Colorado. Pushed by winds gusting well over 40 mph, hurricane strength in some areas, it burned through subdivisions destroying 1,056 structures. By late the next day the winds had decreased and it was snowing on the 6,080-acre blaze.

At the request of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control a Facilitated Learning Analysis has been completed. The very lengthy and detailed document is in the Storymap format, which in this case includes many illustrations, photos, and maps.

Marshall Fire, Louisville, Colorado, by WxChasing/Brandon Clement
Marshall Fire, Louisville, Colorado. Photo by WxChasing/Brandon Clement, Dec. 31, 2021.

Topics covered are weather, fuels, fire behavior, communication, ordering, evacuations, utilities, animal rescue, and hospital evacuation. It contains a wealth of information that could aid communities planning to prevent similar damage from inevitable wildfires, and manage them after they start.

Marshall Fire structures
Map of structures damaged or destroyed during the Marshall Fire which started December 30, 2021 near Boulder, Colorado. Map accessed 10 a.m. MST January 7, 2021.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Report released for the Marshall Fire which destroyed 1,056 structures southeast of Boulder, Colorado”

  1. In the first photo, we see a common phenomenon–unburned trees amid the burned structures. Trees close to structures are often burned. What does this tell us?

  2. Cause still under investigation. And possibly multiple causes. With how Boulder County is, wonder if we will ever know.

    1. Sounds like some serious conjecture. Does Boulder County have a history of suppressing findings from investigations?

    2. “With how Boulder County is”

      You mean their experience in numerous catastrophic fires with significant losses? Or do you mean their ability to conduct thorough and professional investigations?

      It’s almost like you were alluding to something you didn’t want to say outright.

  3. Because the fire spread so fast in a geographically unpredictable path, I have concern that the natural gas utility headquarters was unable to shut off supply lines soon enough, thereby causing internal explosions within many of the homes containing multiple appliances ( gas fire places, gas ranges, gas hot water heaters, and also containers for propane gas grills )
    Roof materials may have actually exploded into the turbulent hot air currents spreading the fire in many directions simultaneously. There were news reports televised of the fire jumping blocks away to ignite separate neighborhoods.
    I believe that the active natural gas supply lines and residual gas in the pipes after shut down contributed significantly to the explosive spread of the fire.
    I’m sharing my thoughts not to place blame, but to consider a protocol of large scale gas supply line shut downs immediately whenever we have unpredictable future widespread fires due to climate change.

  4. Climate change is a false religion. Too many facts disprove man has had an affect on our climate. Fear & emergencies are used, by those who espouse this religion, to try to manipulate and control other’s actions. Fires and hurricanes aren’t caused by coal-burning power plants, methane gas from cows, CO2 from the ocean, or evil unbelievers who don’t drive electric cars.
    The Earth’s climate is larger than anything as small as mankind. Weather cycles and patterns have been happening for tens of thousands of years. Hotter one year or two, then colder for a couple years. Drier for 10 years, then wetter for 20. Everything is due to man’s affect on the climate?
    Zealots for this faux-religion will insult and criticize anyone who doesn’t believe with them.

    1. Don’t be naive – and try to write this off as just cyclical weather patterns. Your theory would suggest we are due for another ice age, and/or deny that the way that man has affected our planet in the industrial age leading up to today has nothing to do with the way the planet has been impacted. And seems like you are, in turn, criticizing and insulting those who do not agree with your particular line of thinking.

What do you think?