USA — Firefighters ramped up their battle Tuesday against a wildfire that forced about 3,500 people to desperately flee their homes as the wind-whipped blaze filled the surrounding canyon with heavy smoke and spit flames.
The 3,500-acre fire in the foothills outside Boulder has destroyed more than 60 homes, according to a fire marshal, including some that belonged to firefighters.
Gov. Bill Ritter declared a state of emergency as officials nearly doubled the fire’s estimated size to more than 7,100 acres, or 11 square miles, after better mapping. At one point, the plume from the fire could be seen in Wyoming, 90 miles north.
Authorities investigated reports that the fire started when a car crashed into a propane tank. They are also trying to figure out why an automated phone alert system failed for two hours during the evacuation, forcing authorities to go door-to-door to search for people in harm’s way.
The fire caused no known injuries. But many spent Tuesday in shelters wondering if their homes survived. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said nine volunteer firefighters were among those who lost their homes.