BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- More than 300 homes received reverse 911 calls Sunday at about 6:30 p.m. ordering mandatory evacuations because of a fire burning in Lefthand Canyon in Boulder County. Smoke from the fire could be seen miles away in downtown Denver.
The grass fire burning in the 4000 block of Lefthand Canyon Drive is called the Maxwell Fire and has burned an estimated 75 acres since it started at about 5 p.m Sunday. Three air tankers had been making drops of retardant from the air before sundown.
Air drops are scheduled to resume Monday morning. A helicopter has been requested and is expected to arrive Monday morning. The U.S. Forest Service has assumed command of the fire. Crews have started a back burn in the area, residents have been advised there may be an increase in smoke.
One hundred firefighters are battling the fire on the ground, along with six to seven engines. There is zero containment. Overnight Sunday, firefighters will try to corner the fire into previous burn areas.
“The incident commander decided that what he wants to do is beat the fire to the road. So he is going to be conducting a back burn operation and they’re going to try to push the fire to the old Overland Fire and what burned in the Lefthand Canyon fire in March,” said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Elsha Kirby.
Many homeowners decided to ignore the mandatory evacuation order, instead preparing to leave if the fire grew closer to their homes.
“Well, it hasn’t jumped the Lefthand Canyon or Lefthand Creek it’s on the north side of it we’ve got two protective barriers before it could come up on our side,” said homeowner Chuck Rose. “There’s really nothing you can do about it except go with the flow.”
Traffic has been blocked from driving on Lefthand Canyon Drive and James Canyon Road. Traffic is being stopped at Olde Stage and Lefthand Canyon Drive. There is a potential for structures to become threatened, although none were directly threatened Sunday evening at 6 p.m.
All evacuation centers set up by the Red Cross, including the Boulder YMCA, 2850 Mapleton Ave. will be closed overnight. Animals are invited to stay at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.
There are slight winds coming from the east. There is a high potential for the fire to spread due to high temperatures, low relative humidity, steep slopes and dry conditions.
The fire is burning in timber, dead and downed materials. The cause of the fire is unknown and being investigated.
In March, a wildfire burned 622 acres of National Forest land in Lefthand Canyon, which prompted the evacuation of more than 200 homes. No homes were damaged in that fire.