The fire began around 10 a.m. on Fourmile Canyon Road near Emerson Gulch, according to Boulder County Emergency Management. It is not clear how it started. It is being called the Fourmile Canyon Fire.
Laura McConnell with the Boulder County Incident Management Team said "multiple and/or dozens" of homes were lost to the fire. She said four of the structures lost belonged to firefighters who were battling the blaze. They were taken off the line when their homes were lost.
Many of the structures that were lost were in the Sunshine and Four Mile Canyon areas.
"It sounded like a raging river just getting louder and louder," David Mann, a person who was recreating in the area and had to evacuate, said. "We just turned and ran and started yelling to get out of there."
As he left the area, Tom Hammond, a resident, had to face the helpless truth.
"Whichever way the wind blows, it's gonna blow toward the houses," Hammond said.
"I started hearing the roar of the fire and it was like a tornado roar. So when you start hearing that, you know that you've got a serious wildfire," Linda Tarr, an evacuee, said. "So devastating was to hear those houses burn. To hear the popping, maybe propane tanks? It was like gunfire. I don't know what that was, but there were explosions also. But the wood burning - I've never heard a house fire, but now I have."
Mann says it was very scary.
"Just: 'Get the hell out of here. 'Why am I here? My wife's gonna kill me,'" Mann said.
Cmdr. Rick Brough with Boulder County Emergency Management says a fire truck was also consumed by the flames.
There are no reports of any injuries from the fire and fire crews would not even discuss containment or control on Monday night.
The fire is moving northeast toward Highway 36 and also growing to the west.
The number of homes evacuated soared to 1,000 by Monday night. The evacuations started in the Gold Hill area and then spread.
The general boundaries of the evacuation areas are the Peak to Peak Highway to the west, Left Hand Canyon to the north, Highway 36 to the east and Boulder Canyon to the south. The Sugarloaf area was being evacuated on Monday night.
No people are being allowed back into any of the areas that have been evacuated.
The Boulder County Office of Emergency Management says the emergency alert notification system was not working properly and residents in the area should not wait for alerts to evacuate.
Before the problems, About 2,500 messages were sent to residents in the area, telling them they have to evacuate or they should be prepared to leave.
The only remaining evacuation center that is open is at the Coors Event Center on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. The North Boulder Recreation Center, the Nederland Community Center and New Vista High School are no longer open. There were less than a dozen evacuees at the Coors Event Center late Monday night. The Boulder County Fairgrounds is set up to accept large animals that were evacuated and the Longmont Humane Society is also taking in some animals. Longmont is asking for help with some food for dogs and cats.
Many of the evacuated residents were staying at the Holiday Inn Express at Broadway and Lee Hill Drive because they were allowed to take their pets there. The hotel waived its pet fees for the evacuees.
Boulder Valley School District's mountain schools will be closed Tuesday due to the fires and road closures. That includes mountain schools in Jamestown, Gold Hill and Nederland elementary schools, as well as Nederland Middle/Senior High School. BVSD mountain school bus routes including those to the Boulder schools will not drive to or from the mountains on Tuesday. More information is on http://bvsd.org.
Authorities say it has been a struggle to transport water up to the area.
Because the fire has moved so fast, authorities say it was hard for firefighters to get ahead of the fire and create breaks. About 100 firefighters are in the field battling the fire and another 50 to 75 are on standby. They are working in rugged and steep terrain and are trying to protect structures. They are clearing out about 30 yards around any structures to try and keep the flames away from them.
Firefighters were staying overnight to fight the fire and keep it away from homes.
By Tuesday morning, it is hoped that seven air tankers will be used to fight the fire. Crews were able to use three on Monday evening. They had to wait until after 5 p.m. to take off because of high winds in the area.
Power has been cut to some communities in the area while crews fight the fire. There is also a 10-mile flight restriction around the fire area because of the air tankers that need to get through.
Both directions of Highway 119 are closed from Boulder to Nederland due to the wildfire. Fourmile Canyon Road and Sunshine Canyon are also closed. Many roads in the area are shut down due to the fire.
A total of 35 different agencies have responded to the fire. The Boulder County Sheriff's Office is also asking state and federal authorities for help.
The smoke from the fire is easily visible from Denver and people in Boulder say ash has fallen on their homes.
Earlier on Monday, winds were from the north-northwest at 15 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph, according to the 9NEWS Weather Team.
There were reports of two other smaller structure fires, one of them in Eldora, but those fires were contained.
For more information, the Boulder Office of Emergency Management is updating its website: http://boulderoem.com/.
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