This article is about the canyon west of Boulder, Colorado that experienced a major wildfire in 2010. For the canyon located north of Cañon City, Colorado, see Fourmile Canyon (Fremont County, Colorado). For the small stream located north of Boulder, see Fourmile Canyon Creek.
Fourmile Canyon or Four Mile Canyon hosts a stream variously known as Fourmile Creek, or Four Mile Creek in Boulder County, Colorado (This is not the Fourmile Canyon Creek which runs a few miles north of Fourmile creek.). The stream rises at on the southern slope of Niwot Mountain, west of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. It flows east and south through the unincorporated communities of Sunset, Wallstreet, Salina, and Crisman to the confluence with Boulder Creek at in Boulder Canyon, four miles west of the historic location of the Boulder Railroad Depot.
Fourmile Canyon was the location of the first narrow-gauge railroad to connect Union Pacific's standard-gauge network to the mines and mountain communities near Ward, and was the entryway to the Switzerland Trail tourist route that wound through the mountains between Nederland and Ward. The Fourmile narrow gauge track was active from the 1880s until 1919.
|Fourmile Canyon fire|
The Fourmile Canyon Fire continued to burn on September 7, 2010, visible from NASA's Aqua satellite.
|Date(s)||September 6, 2010-- September 16, 2010|
A wildfire started burning in the canyon forest at 10:00 a.m. Monday, September 6, 2010. Houses were destroyed and the fire was out of control. Very low humidity and winds enabled 20 to 50 feet (15 m) high flames to spread quickly. Residents were evacuated and all roads into the fire zone were closed. At Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, two aircraft tankers each with 2,000 gallons of fire retardant took off at 5:20 p.m. Winds eased in the late afternoon, making it possible for the airplanes to drop the retardant on the periphery of the fire zone in an attempt to contain the flames. Smoke was visible across the entire Front Range northwest of Boulder.
Day Two -- Tuesday, September 7, 2010: 200 firefighters from more than 35 agencies had responded. The fire was estimated to cover more than 7,135 acres (a threefold increase since the previous day) and remained zero percent contained. Colorado's governor, Bill Ritter, declared a state of emergency and dedicated $5 million to help the effort. More than 92 homes had been destroyed by the end of the second night. Nine of the destroyed homes belonged to firefighters who were fighting the fire. 3,500 people had been evacuated. An accident involving a propane tank was reported to have started the fire, but that was later determined to be a misinterpretation.
Day Three -- Wednesday, September 8, 2010: Earlier in the day 20 people in the area were reported missing; by night fall the number had fallen to 5. The number of firefighters increased to 300. An approximate number of the area affected was realized, showing 6,388 acres (25.85 km2). The number of homes destroyed went up to 150, making it the second worst wildfire in Colorado history and was still zero percent contained.
Day Four -- Thursday, September 9, 2010: number of firefighters grows to 430. All persons who were reported missing had been accounted for. The fire was reported 40% contained. At 10 a.m. some residents of the affected area were allowed to return to their homes, but were forced to move back out at 2 p.m. due to high winds, which could fuel the fire. The number of homes burned was at 169. The northwest section of the city of Boulder was put on standby to be evacuated.
Day Five -- Friday, September 10, 2010: The fire was 6,422 acres (25.99 km2) and 56% contained. 1,100 firefighters continued to fight the blaze.
Day Eleven -- Thursday, September 16, 2010: 100% containment was achieved.
"The Boulder County Sheriff's Office has lifted evacuation orders on all subdivisions within the fire perimeter. The fire area is open to residents only. Utilities and public works continue to repair damage to infrastructure. Residents are reminded to use caution within the fire area due to the heavy fire and utility traffic in the fire area."
On this day the fire was declared "Inactive" by the incident commander, Jim Thomas. A total of 6,181 acres (approximately 10 square miles) were burned. The reason for the decrease in acreage burned is a result of better GPS mapping of the fire.
Insurance claims for the fire totaled an estimated $217 million, making it the most expensive wildfire in Colorado history, as measured by insurance claims, to 2010. The 169 homes destroyed were the most by any wildfire in Colorado history until that total was surpassed by the High Park fire in June 2012 and then by the Waldo Canyon fire later in June 2012.