UPDATE (Thursday, Oct. 22 3:55 p.m.): Conditions have changed quickly on Thursday afternoon at several of the fires and led to a slew of new evacuations. Click here for live updates Thursday afternoon and evening on all of Colorado’s major wildfires.
The Lefthand Canyon fire remains at 460 acres with 43% containment, while the Calwood Fire only grew by about 100 acres to 10,073 acres and remains 24% contained. Planning operations trainee Josh Shroyer is calling it a win with the significant wind they experienced Wednesday.
Weather conditions Thursday are also favorable for making progress on both fires with humidity rising to 60-70% and temperatures falling through the afternoon, eventually dropping to below freezing after sunset.
With Wednesday's wind, the west side of the fire pushed back on itself and crews on the southeast edge of the Calwood Fire conducted a successful tactical burn operation near the Balarat Education Center to protect structures in the area. No new structures burned overnight, but 26 structures have been lost as a result of the fire.
Firefighters continued working in the Highway 7 corridor and along the northern edge of the fire constructing direct line and checking the progress of the fire to the north. Out of an abundance of caution, The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office enacted an evacuation order for Lyons Park Estates Wednesday because of high winds and low humidity overnight, but Shroyer said firefighters made great progress on the north side of the fire.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office is allowing residents in the Mountain Ridge and Lake of the Pines subdivisions to return on a limited basis to grab essential items, assess any potential damage and winterize the home, if necessary. All residents in the area will need to re-evacuate by 6 p.m.
The sheriff’s office lifted the evacuation for Crestview Estates. They also opened Highway 36 between Boulder and Lyons. However, Lefthand Canyon Drive is closed west of Highway 36 and north of Foothills Highway. Traffic is now stopped northbound to Estes Park from Lyons as well as through South St. Vrain Highway. Traffic is also not moving north on Highway 36 and west from Apple Valley Road into Estes Park.
The following road closures are also in place:
- Highway 7 from Riverside Drive to St. Vrain Creek Crossing
- South St. Vrain Highway at Old St. Vrain Road
- Lefthand Canyon Drive at Geer Road
- Lefthand Canyon Drive from Lickskillet Road to Sawmill Road
- Spring Gulch Road from Gold Lake Road to Lefthand Canyon Drive
All other evacuation orders and warnings remain in place.
The U.S. Forest Service has a temporary closure in place for all activities on Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests lands in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder and Larimer counties. Boulder County Parks and Open Space closed multiple properties to public use on Wednesday.
Even with good progress on both fires, air quality is still being impacted. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an Air Quality Action Day Alert for the Front Range until at least 4 p.m. Thursday for moderate to heavy smoke near the Cameron Peak, Calwood and Lefthand Canyon fires.
The Calwood Fire started on Oct. 17 three miles northwest of Jamestown. Lefthand Canyon Fire started one day later one mile east of Ward. The cause for both fires is unknown with full containment expected by the end of October.
Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires. To donate, go here and then look for "Help Colorado Wildfire Victims" in the dropdown. We are working with our community partners up and down the Front Range to ensure every dollar raised stays in Colorado and helps families who've lost so much.