The Latest: Colorado wildfire is 50 percent contained

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Posted: Mar 19, 2017 9:52 PM
The Latest: Colorado wildfire is 50 percent contained

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The Latest on a wildfire west of Boulder, Colorado, (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

A wildfire that caused people to flee hundreds of homes just west of Boulder, Colorado, has been 50 percent contained.

The progress update was released late Sunday by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.

Firefighters plan to monitor the perimeter of the 62-acre fire and focus on protecting structures overnight. No structures have been damaged by the blaze, which Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Wagner says may be human-caused.

Evacuation orders for residents of 426 homes remain in place.

Crews hope to fully contain the blaze on Monday.

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5:30 p.m.

Authorities say they believe a wildfire just west of downtown Boulder, Colorado, may have been human-caused.

Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Wagner says the fire originated in an area used by hikers and by transients for camping. Wagner says officials have ruled out any lightning strikes or downed power lines.

Some 250 firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft are fighting the 62-acre blaze, which is 20 percent contained. No structures have been damaged. Wagner said there's a chance winds might pick up sometime overnight.

Wagner said Sunday that evacuation orders for residents of 426 homes will remain in place overnight. The Red Cross opened a shelter for those evacuees unable to stay with family or friends.

Wagner said fire crews will monitor the blaze overnight and focus on full containment and mop-up on Monday.

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3:30 p.m.

Authorities say 426 homes have been evacuated because of a wildfire just west of downtown Boulder, Colorado.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management says residents were evacuated before dawn Sunday, while an additional 836 homes were warned to be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

The fire has burned just over 60 acres a couple of miles from the university town's main shopping and dining thoroughfare. It is 20 percent contained, and winds are expected to pick up later Sunday.

Officials say it's not clear when evacuation orders and notices might be lifted.

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1:30 p.m.

Crews have made some progress against a small wildfire just west of downtown Boulder, Colorado.

The blaze has burned just over 60 acres, and it was 20 percent contained Sunday afternoon. Officials have made more than 1,000 calls to residents to evacuate and thousands more to others to be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

Officials with the Boulder Office of Emergency Management say fire crews are feeling good about the progress but are still concerned about stronger winds forecast later in the day.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning predicting warm, dry weather and winds gusting up to 40 mph into this evening.

Boulder County officials say the fire is being fought predominantly from the air.

There are no reports of damage to homes.

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10:20 a.m.

Authorities have made more than 1,000 calls to residents in and around Boulder, Colorado, ordering them to leave their homes as a wildfire burns in the mountains just west of the university town.

Gabi Boerkircher with the Boulder Office of Emergency Management says an additional 2,200 automated phone calls early Sunday warned others to get ready to leave if conditions get worse.

It wasn't clear exactly how many houses or residents were evacuated because the calls could have gone to multiple people living in the same home and likely didn't include children.

The fire reported around 1:40 a.m. Sunday had burned 30 to 50 acres just a couple of miles from downtown Boulder. Several aircraft are making drops to battle the flames.

Emergency officials don't know how the fire started.

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8:45 a.m.

Authorities say a small wildfire burning in the mountains just outside the Colorado city of Boulder has forced people from their homes and is filling the sky with smoke.

Wind is pushing the flames early Sunday just a couple of miles from the downtown area. The fire was only 30 to 50 acres.

Shannon Cordingly of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management says it's unclear how many homes have been evacuated just west of the university town and how the flames ignited.

The agency says there are no reports of injuries or buildings destroyed. Cordingly says if the fire keeps spreading, more evacuations are possible.

Resident Seth Frankel, who's packed after being warned he may need to evacuate, says dead trees "are exploding into a black plume that goes into the air."