Boulder NCAR fire prompts evacuations

A wildfire broke out near the National Center for Atmospheric Research in southwestern Boulder on Saturday afternoon, prompting evacuation orders for parts of the city and pre-evacuation notices for Eldorado Springs, according to authorities.

Boulder police initially said about 1,200 residences had been ordered to evacuate due to what has been named the NCAR fire.

But a short time later, police tweeted a map that showed nearly all of south Boulder under evacuation. The Boulder Office of Emergency Management now says that map was wider than required, and that the actual evacuation area is “from NCAR to Baseline Road, east to U.S. 36, back down to Broadway, and straight west to NCAR again.”

The town of Superior posted a notice saying its staff had been in contact with a Boulder County sheriff’s sergeant who said the fire is about 20 acres in size and moving south/southeast toward Eldorado Springs in southwestern Boulder County.

Pre-evacuation orders have been issued for the Eldorado Springs area, west of Colorado 93, north of Eldorado Canyon State Park, the east side of Walker Ranch Open Space and south of Greenbriar Boulevard, according to emergency officials.

The fire is burning on the southwest side of Boulder in an open space area near NCAR, police said. The Boulder Fire Department is on scene fighting the fire.

Emergency operations have been activated and wireless emergency alerts have been sent to all cell phones within a 1/4-mile radius of NCAR, police said.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s South Campus has been evacuated because of the fast-moving fire. Police ask people to avoid the area. Eldorado Canyon State Park, which was at capacity on Saturday, has been closed. Rangers are working to get visitors safely out of the park. People hiking or recreating in the area as asked to leave.

Firefighting aircraft are on the way to aid ground crews fighting the fire, Gov. Jared Polis said on Twitter.

At about 4:40 p.m., Colorado 93 closed northbound from Colorado 128, near Superior, to Marshall Road because of the fire, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

An evacuation point has been set up at the East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Evacuees can get updated information there as well as other resources. Pets are welcome.

Emergency personnel is still determining additional shelter needs as the situation unfolds, the OEM said.

Pre-evacuation warnings are in affect in the following areas: West of Colorado 93, north of Eldorado Canyon State Park, east side of Walker Ranch Open Space and south of Greenbriar Boulevard. Authorities urge residents to be alert and be ready to evacuate.

At about 3:30 p.m., winds in Boulder were gusting to about 31 mph, humidity was 14% and the temperature was 73 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley, 2323 55th St., is accepting evacuated companion animals from the fire.

People in the area are advised to follow @boulderpolice on Twitter for fire updates.

This story is breaking news and will be updated.

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