High Country Views: Fire in the foothills

HCN's podcast looks at the aftermath of Colorado's most destructive wildfire


Updated 9/28/10

In early September, embers from a fire pit in Fourmile Canyon, in the foothills outside Boulder, Colo., likely ignited the most destructive wildfire in state history. Nearly 170 homes were lost across some 6,400 acres, resulting in an estimated $217 million in damages. 

The fire was dramatic, but not unexpected. Boulder County's wildland-urban interface is the most densely populated in Colorado, and 10th in the West. After the 1989 Black Tiger Fire, which consumed 44 homes, the county began implementing some of the most progressive wildlife mitigation measures in the West, including building codes requiring homeowners in the mountains to build with less flammable materials and clear vegetation around their property. But when a wildfire is moving as hot and fast as the Fourmile fire did, all bets are off. 

In this episode of High Country Views, Kale Casey talks with HCN assistant editor Cally Carswell about working the Fourmile blaze as a paramedic, and Boulder County Wildfire Mitigation coordinator Eric Philips discusses how well mitigation worked and where wildfire management in the county goes from here.



You can catch High Country Views approximately every other week. Available via our RSS feed, and for download now through iTunes.

Fourmile Canyon Cause
Sep 28, 2010 12:13 PM
Just to clarify, it was never determined what exactly caused the Fourmile Canyon fire. It may have been an ember from a fire pit, but there is nothing to suggest that is more likely than some other cause.

The alleged fire-starter had a fire in his fire pit a few days before the Fourmile Canyon fire began. He used water two or three times over those few days to put his fire out. He did not see any smoke coming from his fire pit the morning the fire started. When he returned to his home that morning, there was a fire burning on his property, but it was not conclusive that the fire began from the fire pit. In fact, the DA decided against filing charges because the DA doubted he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the fire started from the fire pit.
Cally Carswell
Cally Carswell
Sep 28, 2010 02:06 PM
Thanks, Ryan. The statement has been qualified.