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Mitigation helped limit damage in Sunshine Wildland Fire, firefighters say

Firefighters credit mitigated homes for preventing the further spread of the fire in the Sunshine Canyon area of Boulder County.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A fire that forced more than 450 people to evacuate their homes in Boulder County is 100% contained, emergency managers said.

The Sunshine Wildland Fire, which started Monday, has burned 19 acres and is fully contained as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. The evacuation orders were lifted at 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

Seth McKinney, fire management officer for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, gave a lot of credit to homeowners for being prepared and helping limit the fire's spread by mitigating their homes. He said mitigated properties played a huge role in preventing further loss. 

"That's usually the key factor there in being able to save a home," McKinney said.

Credit: 9NEWS - Mike Grady
The wildland fire started out as a house fire on Sunshine Canyon Drive. That home was a total loss.

The wildland fire started out as a house fire in the 2900-block of Sunshine Canyon Drive. That home was a total loss. So far, there's no word on what caused the fire.

Another home, on Bristlecone Way, is damaged. 

"Seeing that smoke above Boulder, coming over the hillside, everybody's heart just dropped," McKinney said. 

Wildfires in winter have become a common sight in Boulder County, reminding people of just how much was lost last year in the Marshall Fire. 

"I hate to say it, but this is kind of our primary fire season right now, and it's not ideal," McKinney said. "We're done with fires in December, but here we are."

But, wildfires aren't done with them.

Credit: 9NEWS - Mike Grady

"With the high winds, one of the big challenges we were facing was the wind pushing spot fires out in front of us," he said. "We've got the main fire and then we've got a handful of smaller spot fires ranging from 10x10 feet to up to two acres." 

McKinney said Tuesday that the fire grew slightly overnight, and besides flames, firefighters were also battling cold weather. 

He was hopeful winds would stay calm Tuesday night so work on the fire could keep progressing before expected extreme cold temperatures reach the Front Range later this week. 

"An outstanding effort by all the first responders to come in, work together and make sure that we didn't have an outcome like the Marshall Fire," McKinney said. 

He said around 200 first responders, including deputies and police, assisted with this wildland fire. 

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