NCAR fire in Boulder now 80% contained as wet weather moves in

Boulder County fire crews were able to withstand some overnight winds to reach 80% containment on the NCAR fire, with light rain already beginning to fall on the burn area Tuesday morning.

Incident commander Brian Oliver said about 70 firefighters were battling the 190-acre fire by attacking hot spots: digging them up to expose them to the cold, damp air.

Tuesday’s wet weather forecast should help with firefighting efforts, but Oliver said his biggest concern is firefighter safety.

While rain and snow will help to put out the fire, Oliver said it creates hazardous conditions for crews working in steep terrain. If the weather gets bad enough, officials may pull crews back and focus on patrolling the fire lines.

Oliver said the fire lines held up overnight, though he said the confidence he expressed Monday did waver a bit as firefighters dealt with 45 mph gusts.

“We were getting some good gusts,” Oliver said. “But everything did hold.”

Oliver said once crews made it through the night, officials felt comfortable upgrading the containment percentage, and the fire response will soon be downgraded from a Type 3 to a Type 4 response, meaning command of the fire will be turned over to Boulder Fire-Rescue and will no longer need an inter-agency command structure.

Boulder Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Marya Washburn said residents will continue to see smoke from the burn area for the next few days.

The fire jumped from 21% containment Sunday morning to 35% containment that afternoon. By Monday afternoon, crews had reached 68% containment.

Officials said the fire started about 2 p.m. Saturday in Bear Canyon near the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

At its largest, the evacuation area included an estimated 19,000 people and 8,000 homes before it was reduced Saturday night and then lifted on Sunday afternoon.

There have been no structures damaged and no injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who was on or near the trails south of NCAR around the time the fire started and may have seen anything to call 720-564-2679 or email [email protected]

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