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2 Boulder County wildfires prompt evacuations; more than 2 dozen animals killed

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- Two wind-blown grass fires forced the evacuation of nearly 300 homes and killed more than two dozen animals on Friday in Boulder County.

A few residents had to stay out of their homes until Saturday morning when all evacuation orders were lifted, the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management said.

A fire that started in the 5200 block of Rogers Road west of Longmont forced the evacuation of 125 homes with another 29 homes placed on pre-evacuation orders Friday.

On Saturday, officials said the fire killed 22 goats, five piglets and one full-size pig.

It started from a slash pile that had been burned on Jan. 5, officials said. It's believed the slash pile was still warm deep within in it and the remnants were reignited by Friday's high winds.

Officials said most of the evacuations, which were ordered out of an abundance of caution, were lifted about 11:15 a.m. then reinstated at about 2:50 p.m. because of "flare-ups."

All evacuation orders were lifted by Friday night.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said the fire burned about 24 acres and it was contained to one owner's property. It also said 10 outbuildings were destroyed.

The fire started just after 5 a.m. and all but a couple of homes within the active fire zone had evacuation orders lifted.

A second fire was reported just after 8 a.m. in the 700 block of Wagonwheel Gap Road, about 10 miles southwest of the Rodgers Fire and northwest of Boulder, the sheriff's office said. It was 100 percent contained Saturday night.

Investigators said power lines blown down in the powerful wind started the fire.

Evacuation notices were ordered for 157 homes because of the fire, which had burned about three to five acres in a heavily wooded area. Evacuations stayed in place overnight Friday for a few homes on Wagonwheel Gap Road and Lion Point Road.

“It is a windy day so our firefighters are trying to get the fire out as quickly as possible,” said Carrie Haverfield, spokeswoman for Boulder County Office of Emergency Management.

"We always put life safety as No. 1. If there is a home within a short vicinity of a fire, we are going to order an evacuation so those folks are out and safe and our first responders can focus on structure protection."

Multiple fire departments fought both fires and a large animal evacuation shelter opened at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.

No injuries from either fire were reported.

Denver set a record high temperature before 10:30 a.m., fueled by strong Chinook winds coming off the mountains.