Of­fi­cials: Boul­der’s Sun­shine fire is 100 per­cent con­tained

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom McGhee The Daily Cam­era contributed to this re­port.

Michael Cox, in front, and Jake Long, wild­land fire­fight­ers with Grand Junc­tion Fire, walk along the perime­ter of the Sun­shine fire on Mon­day to mon­i­tor for hot spots.

Residents who were evac­u­ated in the path of Boul­der’s Sun­shine fire can re­turn home, fire of­fi­cials said Mon­day, and the fire is 100 per­cent con­tained.

Residents should have proof of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and en­ter the area at Boul­der Canyon Drive or Sun­shine Canyon Road, said Gabi Bo­erkircher, spokes­woman for the Boul­der Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment.

The fire caused 426 peo­ple to be evac­u­ated. Fire of­fi­cials also lifted an or­der that warned an ad­di­tional 815 peo­ple to be pre­pared to leave.

The blaze, which be­gan early Sun­day and is believed to have been caused by hu­man ac­tiv­ity, scorched 74 acres.

The high winds that fire crews were fear­ing overnight Sun­day never ma­te­ri­al­ized, and as a re­sult fire­fight­ers were “com­fort­able” enough with where the fire was on Mon­day morn­ing that they could lift the evac­u­a­tions. A fire line sur­rounded the fire west of Boul­der and con­sisted of trenches dug by fire­fight­ers, roads and ar­eas where slurry was dropped.

Boul­der Hot­shot fire­fighter Ja­son Mor­ley ar­rived on scene shortly af­ter 9 a.m. Sun­day and spent the day fight­ing the fire in rough ter­rain.

“Our guys did a great job,” Mor­ley said. “We’re there dig­ging lines, at­tack­ing hot spots.”

Mor­ley said con­di­tions Sun­day in the canyon were bru­tal for fire­fight­ers and highly un­usual for this time of year.

“I’ve never seen it like this be­fore,” Mor­ley said. “There is no snow at all up there. If you picked up grass, it would just crum­ble in your hands.”

So far, it has cost roughly $500,000 to fight the fire. There were 178 fire­fight­ers and 50 firetrucks fight­ing the blaze Mon­day.

Only one per­son used the East Boul­der Com­mu­nity Cen­ter as a shel­ter overnight Sun­day, and one evac­u­ated horse stayed at the Boul­der County Fair­grounds overnight.

On Sun­day, Boul­der County sher­iff ’s Cmdr. Mike Wag­ner said the gen­eral area where the fire started, at Sun­shine Canyon Road and Tim­ber Trail, has a net­work of un­of­fi­cial “so­cial” trails and is known to have “lots of tran­sient camp­sites.”

Of­fi­cials were con­cerned Sun­day about gust­ing winds be­cause the fire was within a mile of down­town.

The Boul­der Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment placed more than 1,000 phone calls order­ing predawn evac­u­a­tions. The fire was re­ported about 1:40 a.m. Sun­day.

Eight air­craft dropped wa­ter and slurry, said Barb Halpin, a spokes­woman for the of­fice.

Helen H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post

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