Boulder, Colo. (AP) - Weary firefighters hoped the worst was over from a wildfire that destroyed nearly 170 homes in the Rocky Mountains foothills, but crews were monitoring hot spots early Friday amid concerns that erratic winds could fan the flames and send them into Boulder.
Fearing further devastation, 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 downplayed the risk to the
"I'm not aware of any real threat to the city of
Crews contained 45 percent of the 10-square-mile fire, though the line wasn't continuous. Thomas declined to speculate when it would be fully contained.
The blaze, dubbed the
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 with higher gusts forecast for Friday could complicate the efforts of 700 firefighters plus support personnel and air tanker crews. Heavy air tankers have trouble accurately dropping their loads of dull red retardant when winds surpass 35 mph, Thomas said.
Parts of central and northern
"There's always that risk with a major fire," he said. "We've seen a fire move eight miles in a day."
The cause of one of the fire that destroyed more homes than any other blaze in
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.
Lee McCormack made it to his house Thursday but was stopped at a roadblock on a second attempt.
"It's shut down. It doesn't matter how much you plead," McCormack. "I gave the cop a Power Bar and he still wouldn't let me up there."
The city of
Caitlin Kolibas, 22, a college senior who lives in the University Hill neighborhood, said her parents in
"I lived through the
The loss of homes surpassed that of the 2002 Hayman fire in southern
Nationwide, about 2.6 million acres 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.