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Here's how firefighters kept the NCAR Fire from reaching homes

Quick decisions and calmer winds helped firefighters get a handle on it. Mitigation efforts in this area also helped out.

BOULDER, Colo. — The edge of the NCAR Fire burn scar is about a quarter-mile away from homes in the Devil's Thumb neighborhood.

"We recognized this as one of the areas that needed the most attention," Erin Doyle, a Wildfire Operations Specialist for Boulder Fire, said Monday. "Some gusts up to 50 miles per hour in the alignment with this drainage we are standing in, it kind of makes it a perfect storm for fire movement. I was very concerned for the houses on Stoney Hill."

The fire, which forced thousands of people to evacuate, has burned about 189 acres. No injuries have been reported and no structures have been lost in the fire, which was first reported around 2 p.m. Saturday in an open space near the National Center for Atmospheric Research in south Boulder. 

All evacuation orders for the fire were lifted as of 5 p.m. Sunday and the fire is 68% contained as of Monday night.

RELATED: NCAR Fire in Boulder County now 68% contained

Firefighters were able to ultimately stop the fire after getting a hose line up the hill. 

"Imagine hiking up this relatively steep hill with upwards of 90 pounds on your back over and over again, looking at 600 to 800 feet of hose up that hill," Doyle said. 

Those quick decisions and calmer winds helped firefighters get a handle on it. Mitigation efforts in this area also helped out. 

"Over the last 10 years, we have done about 600 acres of forest thinning across the area," said Phillip Yates, spokesperson for the City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks Department. "Another strategy we have had is livestock grazing, so we have been doing that for several years."

Phillips is also in charge of opening the trails back up. Some have reopened since the weekend. 

"We are going to assess the damage, see what is the impact, recognize what we need to do to fix," he said.

The fire may have started near the NCAR Bear Canyon hiking trail just south of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Boulder Fire Department said.

The department made this determination based on the fire progression and movement. On Monday, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. They didn't have any new information to release.

No homes have been lost in the fire. It is a victory during the county's second wildfire since December. 

"Hopefully this spring we get some moisture so we can get a break from it," Doyle said.

RELATED: NCAR Fire fuels discussions on effects of climate change

RELATED: Boulder's wireless emergency alerts went much further than intended during NCAR fire

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