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Boulder and Cameron Peak Fires Explode: The Latest

The Calwood fire, as seen in a photo shared by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management on October 17.EXPAND
The Calwood fire, as seen in a photo shared by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management on October 17.

This is the Colorado wildfire season that won't end.

Over the weekend, two blazes erupted in Boulder County with a speed and ferocity that had authorities scrambling. The largest is the Calwood fire (it's also being called the Cal-Wood fire in some quarters), which started on Saturday, October 17, and has already consumed nearly 9,000 acres and destroyed or damaged 26 structures. The second is the Lefthand Canyon fire — the same name given to conflagrations in 2011 and 2019, among others — that currently measures in the hundreds of acres and is so new that it doesn't yet have a federal Inciweb page. But its proximity to populated areas has caused evacuations in the Town of Ward and beyond.

In addition, the Cameron Peak fire in northern Colorado, now officially the largest in state history, has surpassed 200,000 acres, with no end in sight.

The Calwood fire is described at Inciweb as having started at around noon on October 17 in a location three miles northwest of Jamestown. As of the most recent update, at 3:20 p.m. on October 18, it was estimated at 8,788 acres in size, with containment of approximately 15 percent. At the time, the site noted that the fire "had no significant growth today and moderate fire behavior. Control lines were bolstered in proximity to most of the structures." Moreover, "air operations were hampered by the weather earlier today but were back operational in early afternoon and assisted with Lefthand Fire. The most concerning area around the fire...is the northern flank due to alignment with the canyon and winds, steep terrain, and fuel availability. Area is steep and rugged terrain making access very difficult."

This morning, October 19, the elite Rocky Mountain Team Black is taking over fire management. But their efforts are too late to prevent losses to property catalogued in the follow Boulder Office of Emergency Management (BOEM) roster by neighborhood, address and condition:

Foothills Ranch — 2967 Foothills Ranch Drive — Damaged/Intact
Foothills Ranch — 2983 Foothills Ranch Drive — Total Loss
Foothills Ranch — 2991 Foothills Ranch Drive — Total Loss
Foothills Ranch — 3029 Foothills Ranch Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9424 Mountain Ridge Drive — Damaged/Intact
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9451 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9480 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9533 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9544 Mountain Ridge Drive — Vacant/Undeveloped
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9546 Mountain Ridge Drive — Vacant/Undeveloped
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9552 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9573 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision — 9578 Mountain Ridge Drive — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9612 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9624 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9626 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9627 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9631 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9634 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9638 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9645 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9657 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Mountain Ridge Subdivision  — 9669 Mountain Ridge Drive  — Total Loss
Highway 36  — 9786 Foothills Highway  — Total Loss
Heil Ranch Ochs Cabins  — Total Loss
Heil Ranch Ochs Family Hay Barn  — Total Loss
Heil Ranch Plumley Canyon Cabin  — Total Loss

At last report, 445 firefighters were battling the Calwood fire.

The first BOEM alert about the Lefthand Canyon fire was issued at 2:22 p.m. on October 18, when the fire was just five acres; at last report, it had expanded to 312 acres. But even at its earliest stages, the spot where it started, on the 14000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive, necessitated immediate evacuation orders for "the Town of Ward and the areas north of Ward, Gold Hill and the 10000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive. Included in the evacuation order are residents of Spring Gulch Road and Gold Lake Road."

Here's the latest evacuation map encompassing the Calwood and Lefthand Canyon fires:

The latest evacuations order map.EXPAND
The latest evacuations order map.

On the evening of October 18, Boulder County Sheriff's Office Division Chief Mike Wagner provided an update on both fires, as seen in the following video.

Meanwhile, the Cameron Peak fire continues to be a monster. As of 7:31 p.m. on October 18, the size of the disaster was estimated on its Inciweb address at an incredible 203,253 acres. The number of firefighters assigned to it has swelled to 1,464, and thanks to their efforts, containment has been inching upward and currently stands at 62 percent.

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The weather certainly hasn't made their job easier. "Dry conditions and high winds will continue to promote rapid rates of spread with torching and crowning," the report states, with the situation worsening when the winds top twenty miles per hour, which they've been doing frequently over recent days.

Cameron Peak firefighters seen working along Dunraven Glade Road on October 17.
Cameron Peak firefighters seen working along Dunraven Glade Road on October 17.

The Cameron Peak fire was sparked fifteen miles southwest of Red Feather Lakes and is raging in an area that's not nearly as populated as in Boulder County, but livestock evacuations are ongoing. (Click here for more information.)

"Thank you so much for your support!!" the Inciweb item concludes. Emergency personnel will need a lot more of such backing in the days and weeks (but not months, we hope) ahead.

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