#boulderfire – Colorado’s worst wildfire in real-time

Yesterday, a wildfire started outside Boulder a couple miles due west from my home. In the morning we saw wisps of smoke coming over the ridge behind our house and expected to see flames. There was no information on the TV or radio so we went to twitter search and discovered the fire was not on our ridge.

4 mile Canyon Boulder fire - seen from North Boulder

I watched on twitter as a few other curious folks asked about the smoke. The twitter traffic started to build and information began to flow in as the sky darkened. I stumbled onto a live feed for the Boulder County Sheriff and fire communications and tuned in. I started tweeting what I heard but quickly noticed ‘fishnette‘ doing the same — but she did it much better than I, so I quit.

Listening to the live feed, I could hear that the fire was growing rapidly and clearly out of control. here’s a sample of what I was hearing as translated by fishnette (just a couple minutes worth):

scanner: bad stuff on Sunshine canyon, sounds like it’s crossed to the north side of the road, lots of explosions. #Boulderfire

scanner: There are still people refusing to evacuate. hoping not to get the call here. #Boulderfire

scanner: “Make sure to tell the people who are refusing this is the last contact they’ll get from us.” #Boulderfire

scanner: reports of explosions in Mountain Meadow area. this is where propane tanks are a bad deal. #Boulderfire

scanner: now gonna go door to door in Poorman. now have call of someone stuck in Emmerson Gulch home #Boulderfire

scanner: “The danger is extreme. Limit your exposure as far as getting caught up there. Leave yourself an out.” re Bo Heights

Trying to understand where the fire was burning was difficult but important to me because my parents home is (or was?) on Sugarloaf Mountain. So, I was simultaneously listening to the live feed, reading fishnette and searching Google maps for the road names referenced by the firefighters.

boulder's 4 mile Canyon fire map on Google

Neither TV nor FM radio can compete at all with hearing firefighters in real-time scrambling to organize themselves, staging in one area, retreating, restaging in another, calling for resources. It’s probably the closest thing to warfare I’ll ever witness.

I say thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fire. The calm professionalism I heard and continue to hear is awe-inspiring. Thanks for fighting this life-and-death battle for us. My deepest condolences for the loss of your homes.

Online resources for following the fire:

Am hoping we won’t have to evacuate today. Can hear the helicopters and aircraft overhead. Godspeed!

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