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Close watch on Colorado wildfire as winds kick up

 William Bradshaw, a home owner, hugs his girlfriend Alex Rivera at a briefing on the wildfire burning west of Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 8, ...
 Firefighters wait at the fire camp  west of Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010.   Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesnakes, downed ...
 Plans Chief Pete Anderson talks about fighting the wildfire west of Boulder, Colo., during a tour of the fire camp in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, S...
 Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle, left, talks with Incident Commander Todd Richardson, center, and Planning Sectional Chief Dan Eamon at the command center ...
 People gather on an overlook in order to get a view of a wildfire that burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/ Matt Mc...
 Sivia Viggiano watches from a friend's home as a helicopter flies in to load up with water at Wonderland Lake in order to work a wildfire outside of ...
 A tanker flies through smoke as a wildfire burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesna...
 Boulder resident, Binx Selby attends a news conference in a parking lot of the Boulder County Justice Center to get information on a wildfire burning...
 A wildfire burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010.  Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesnakes, downed power lines and com...
 A helicopter loads up with water at Wonderland Lake to drop on a wildfire outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010.  (AP Photo/Matt McCla...
 A rainbow extends over the Coors Events Center on the campus of the University of Colorado as the public arrives for a town hall style meeting to add...
 A home and out buildings destroyed by a wildfire are seen in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010.  (AP Photo/The Daily Came...
 Craig Hickethier looks at a map on an overlook in order to get a view of a wildfire that burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. ...
 Ronda Plywaski and other residents affected by a wildfire outside of Boulder, Colo. attend a town hall style meeting at the Coors Events Center on th...
 A home destroyed by a wildfire is shown in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwel...
 A home destroyed by a wildfire is shown in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwel...
 This image provided by NASA shows the wildfire west of Boulder, Colorado, known as the Fourmile Canyon Fire, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging...

Colorado Wildfires

William Bradshaw, a home owner, hugs his girlfriend Alex Rivera at a briefing on the wildfire burning west of Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 8, ...

Colorado Wildfires

Firefighters wait at the fire camp west of Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesnakes, downed ...

Colorado Wildfires

Plans Chief Pete Anderson talks about fighting the wildfire west of Boulder, Colo., during a tour of the fire camp in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, S...

Colorado Wildfires

Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle, left, talks with Incident Commander Todd Richardson, center, and Planning Sectional Chief Dan Eamon at the command center ...

Colorado Wildfires

People gather on an overlook in order to get a view of a wildfire that burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/ Matt Mc...

Colorado Wildfires

Sivia Viggiano watches from a friend's home as a helicopter flies in to load up with water at Wonderland Lake in order to work a wildfire outside of ...

Colorado Wildfires

A tanker flies through smoke as a wildfire burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesna...

Colorado Wildfires

Boulder resident, Binx Selby attends a news conference in a parking lot of the Boulder County Justice Center to get information on a wildfire burning...

Colorado Wildfires

A wildfire burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. Firefighters encountered a tangle of rattlesnakes, downed power lines and com...

Colorado Wildfires

A helicopter loads up with water at Wonderland Lake to drop on a wildfire outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt McCla...

Colorado Wildfires

A rainbow extends over the Coors Events Center on the campus of the University of Colorado as the public arrives for a town hall style meeting to add...

Colorado Wildfires

A home and out buildings destroyed by a wildfire are seen in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Came...

Colorado Wildfires

Craig Hickethier looks at a map on an overlook in order to get a view of a wildfire that burns outside of Boulder, Colo. on Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010. ...

Colorado Wildfires

Ronda Plywaski and other residents affected by a wildfire outside of Boulder, Colo. attend a town hall style meeting at the Coors Events Center on th...

APTOPIX Colorado Wildfires

A home destroyed by a wildfire is shown in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwel...

APTOPIX Colorado Wildfires

A home destroyed by a wildfire is shown in an aerial photo over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwel...

Colorado Wildfires

This image provided by NASA shows the wildfire west of Boulder, Colorado, known as the Fourmile Canyon Fire, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging...

Weary firefighters hoped the worst was over from a wildfire that destroyed nearly 170 homes in the Rocky Mountains foothills, as crews monitored hot spots early Friday and officials downplayed concerns that winds could fan the flames and force thousands to flee.
Fearing further devastation, Boulder city officials had urged roughly 9,000 residents Thursday afternoon to prepare to evacuate at a moment's notice because of conditions that were ripe for fire _ low humidity and strong winds. But as night fell, federal officials calmed fears of the risk to the university city of 100,000, even as gusts surpassed 40 mph (64 kph).
"I'm not aware of any real threat to the city of Boulder right now," said Jim Thomas, head of the national team managing the fire effort.
Crews contained 45 percent of the 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) fire, though the line wasn't continuous. Thomas declined to speculate when it would be fully contained.
The blaze, dubbed the Fourmile Canyon fire, erupted Monday and quickly left smoking rubble where mountain neighborhoods, filled with million-dollar homes and scenic mountain cabins, once stood. Slopes of charred trees created landscapes resembling a barren winter with gray ash instead of snow.
Still, no more homes were lost to the fire Thursday. Thomas said there were no major signs of crowning, when hungry flames race along the crowns of trees or shrubbery.
Westerly winds of 25 mph (40 kph) with higher gusts forecast for Friday could complicate the efforts of 700 firefighters plus support personnel and air tanker crews. Parts of central and northern Colorado and southern Wyoming remained under a red flag warning Friday, meaning conditions were ripe for fire. And in an abundance of caution, Thomas refused to rule out further trouble west of Boulder.
The cause of one of the fire that destroyed more homes than any other blaze in Colorado history remained under investigation. Authorities were looking at whether a vehicle crashed into a propane tank and set it off.
About 3,500 people have been out of their homes since Monday, many frustrated by a lack of lack of information about what was happening behind fire lines. Some got around roadblocks by hiking and biking in. A limited number stayed.
Across the United States, about 2.6 million acres (1 million hectares) have burned this summer, about 50 percent less than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
____
Associated Press writers Ivan Moreno and Ben Neary contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-06 03:06 GMT+08:00