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Big wind coming to Colorado rattles fire survivors and firefighters: "Even a small fire in these kind of conditions can expand very rapidly"

Big wind coming to Colorado rattles fire survivors and firefighters
Big wind coming to Colorado rattles fire survivors and firefighters 03:33

In Superior's Sagamore neighborhood, there are now more homes than scraped plots. Neighbors gather on a Friday for a birthday party and kids play outdoors. There is still a lot of dirt, but the homes are fresh and new. They had to be. The neighborhood was wiped out by the Marshall Fire​.


"All we can do it hold our breath," said homeowner Mikia Minich, who moved back in a year ago. "I know a whole lot of people are definitely worried about it. Or very worried about it. But that's PTSD talking."

The forecast for weekend winds gusting up to 100 miles an hour is a reminder of the Marshall Fire. It means Red Flag days on Saturday and Sunday and fire departments like West Metro are checking on staffing and keeping brush trucks moving so they are out on the roads more often. 

"Even a small fire in these kind of conditions can expand very rapidly. Be tough to control, fast moving," said West Metro firefighter and paramedic Mike Worcester. 

The winds this weekend are expected to be severe father east than the Marshall Fire's strong winds, up to 15 miles into the metro area. Fire danger should be lower in more densely populated areas. 

"Obviously with a whole lot more infrastructure there's a whole lot more places to try and make a stop," said Worcester. Grass fires tend to move faster and in suburban areas can approach neighborhoods very quickly. 

"With a good wind behind the grass, we can get flame lengths extended 40 feet." Worcester says any kind of spark, from a cigarette to a dragging chain to electrical lines can ignite blazes.

XCEL Energy and CORE Electric Cooperative say they will change the settings so that power in areas that experience brief outages do to things like falling tree branches, does not automatically come back on. 

They will send crews to check to ensure it is safe to restore service. 

Xcel Energy also said in a statement that it may, "de-energize power lines beginning Saturday as a last resort measure to reduce the risk of a wildfire and ensure public safety. If a line is proactively de-energized, we will not turn power back on until the high fire risk has passed, conditions are safe to do so and the line has been visually inspected."

Close to 29,000 Xcel Energy customers may be affected, primarily in Boulder County and small sections of Gilpin and Jefferson Counties.

In the Sagamore neighborhood the homes are still close together due to the lot sizes. But there have been improvements in building construction including fire resistant materials.

"We're in better houses, we're in better shape. We're a little more alert than we were before," said Minich. "We're on edge and we're aware but we're going to keep an eye on things but try our best to stay as calm as we can."

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