The fire started just after 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 6 and went on to scorch an estimated 6,181 acres and destroy 166 homes. About 3,000 people were evacuated ahead of the fire.
Earlier on Monday, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office confirmed the fire started in a fire pit in the 7100 block of Fourmile Canyon Drive. Investigators think the wind reignited embers and blew them out of the fire pit.
9Wants to Know confirms that fire pit belongs to a 20-year volunteer with the Four Mile Fire Department, according to that fire department's chief. It is an all-volunteer fire department.
The man is 71 years old and his house was built in 1996.
After the fire began, the firefighter fought the fire in the hills above Boulder for the next eight hours, but lost his home to the blaze.
The Boulder County Sheriff's Office says the last fire in the fire pit was several days before the wildfire started. Investigators say the property owner had tried to extinguish the fire pit by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes. Investigators think the wind reignited the embers on Sept. 6 and blew them out of the fire pit.
It is unknown if any criminal charges will be pursued, but investigators say in order for any charges to be filed, the person responsible would had to have acted recklessly or in a criminally negligent manner.
The sheriff's office says the firefighter is a life-long member of the community and deputies do not feel he is a danger to the public.
The sheriff's office plans to work closely with the Boulder County District Attorney's office before any decisions are made on an arrest.
"We are not in any hurry to run out and make an arrest. What we want to do is make a complete thorough investigation and then meet with the district attorney's office to figure out how we want to pursue this," Cmdr. Rick Brough with the Boulder County Sheriff's Department said.
The firefighter who started the fire also made the initial 911 call. In the call, it sounded like the cause of the fire was an RV and exploding propane tanks. Brough says that call was misinterpreted and meant the fire was getting close to the RV.
Authorities said Monday morning that the Fourmile Canyon Fire was 87 percent contained and no additional structures have been lost.
Brough says at 10 a.m. on Monday, evacuees were allowed to return to homes along Arroyo Chico, Camino Bosque, Logan Mill Road, Sugarloaf Road to Fourmile Canyon, Sunshine Canyon to County Road 83 and Fourmile Canyon Road to Melvina Hill Road.
Terry Krasko, a spokesman for the national Type 1 incident team estimated $8.3 million has been spent on the fire so far.
Evacuees can get a pass at the Boulder County Justice Center at 6th and Canyon between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. This is for when the mandatory evacuation is lifted.
Evacuees are asked to bring a form of identification and complete a form for tracking purposes. There will also be a short informational meeting to address safety issues in the evacuated zone. You can find this information on the Boulder Office of Emergency Management's website.
The Boulder County Sheriff's Office says evacuees who were not able to pick up a pass on Sunday will be able to get one at the Justice Center during normal business hours.
Fire officials warned that much of the area is dangerous because of downed power lines and poles, damaged roads and exposed mine shafts.
On Monday, there were 925 firefighters on the frontlines.
Steve Simmons of Boulder worked side-by-side with the volunteer firefighter as an EMT and volunteer firefighter for 15 years.
"We would respond to cars in the creek and any medical needs, he was there. And many times, he was the first person on the scene and rendered care for all levels on injuries," Simmons said. "Some people walking the earth here today are alive because of him."
Friends say the volunteer firefighter escaped with only the clothes on his back and his dog.
"He's a good guy that had something bad happen to him," Simmons said. "He has worked so hard as a firefighter to prevent this kind of thing and to help out with so many fires and accidents to try and make things safe for the community that I'm sure he would have never envisioned anything like this."
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