The Marshall Fire in Colorado


The Marshall Fire quickly became the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, in terms of homes destroyed.

The Marshall Fire near Boulder, Colorado consumed 6,219 acres or 9.72 square miles. That’s an area a little more than half the size of the city of Holland (17.45 square miles). The fire consumed 991 homes. Another 127 sustained significant damage. It appears that there were 3 fatalities.

This area had been unusually dry through the fall and early winter. Dec. 30 was an extremely windy day. The Boulder Airport had a peak gust of 73 mph and an average wind midnight-to-midnight of 19.4 mph.

Snow sits on rubble from the Marshall Fire near Boulder CO – pic. from Nexstar – KDVR

A strong cold front and weather system sent temperatures tumbling and brought a fairly quick 8″ of snow to the area. The high temperature in Denver on Saturday was just 8 above zero (average high is 44). At midnight Saturday night, the temperature in Greeley had plummeted to 24 below zero, with a wind chill of -33. Denver should see temperatures back in the low 40s today (Sun.) and near 50 on Monday.

Through Dec. 24 – we’ve had 58,218 wildfires in the U.S. The 10-year average number of wildfires through 12/24 is 60,091. So, in 2021, the number of wildfires in the U.S. was slightly below average. The number of acres burned as of 12/24 is 7.819,070 acres. At 6,219 acres burned, the Colorado Marshall Fire will add a relatively small amount to that number. The number of acres this year ranks 7th highest in the last 11 years of record.

We do not know what caused the Marshall fire, but the Insurance Information Institute says: “As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.”

Here’s a list of historical wildfires in Michigan. You might remember the wildfire on Isle Royale last summer.

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