Fast-moving Colorado Fire Forces Thousands of Evacuations, Closing of National Forest

CalWood fire burns on a hillside near Sixmile Canyon

Thousands of Colorado residents were evacuated over the weekend as a fast-moving wildfire swept through the state and destroyed dozens of homes.

The CalWood fire, first sparked at about noon on Saturday and spurred on by strong wind gusts of up to 59 miles per hour, blazed through north-central Colorado, about 17 miles from downtown Boulder, The Associated Press reported. In total, about 3,000 people were forced to evacuate.

Deemed the largest fire in Boulder County’s history, it had burned more than 8,700 acres by Sunday.

The fire has also resulted in the closure of portions of the Roosevelt National Forest. That is in addition to parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, which have been closed due to the Cameron Peak Fire, which started burning west of Fort Collins in mid-August and is the largest in the state’s history, The Denver Post noted. It was 62 percent contained as of Sunday.

CalWood fire burns on a hillside near Buckingham Park

At least 26 homes have been destroyed as firefighters continue to fight to contain it, aided by calmer winds and more humid weather, Mike Wagner, the division chief with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, told the newspaper.

By Sunday night, the fire was 15 percent contained.

“We were just waiting and waiting, and you know there is Twitter and live feeds. Then we saw a picture from the National Weather Service, and it focused on our house burning. So then we knew,” Courtney Walsh said, telling the paper she only had about 30 minutes to gather her kids, rabbits, dogs, and a few keepsakes before fleeing.

“The 2020 fire season is looking unlike anything we’ve seen before,” Russ Schumacher, a climatologist at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, told the paper. “Normally by this time of year we would have more periods of cooler temperatures and some more precipitation.”

The Colorado fires come on the heels of a record-breaking wildfire season in California, Oregon, and Washington, in which dozens of people have died, California's skies turned an ‘apocalyptic’ orange, and millions of acres have burned.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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