Olde Stage Fire November 24, 1990:
In the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 1990, a man with a long history of mental illness threw a burning mattress out the front door of his home at 5330 Olde Stage Rd., igniting the third devastating fire in as many years in Boulder County.
Warm Chinook winds gusting to 80 mph fanned the fire out of control. The fire swept uphill from the south into nearby homes. The winds then pushed the flames down from the west though a gap in the hogback and out onto the plains. The wind was blowing so hard it blew the flames across U.S. 36
In the end, 10 houses (including the arsonist’s) and five out-buildings were destroyed. Like many homes in the area at the time, they were not built with ignition resistant materials and/or did not have good defensible space. Several of these destroyed homes had wood-shake shingles. Others were surrounded by trees or high grasses. Once the homes caught fire under those conditions, there was nothing firefighters could do to put them out. Firefighters cannot adequately deal with flames moving as quickly across grasslands, burning through trees, and consuming homes.
In the end approximately 3,000 acres burned. This was until that time the largest fire in Boulder County history.
Olde Stage Fire January 7, 2009
Eighteen years later, another fire occurred in the Olde Stage area under conditions very similar to those present in 1990.
Two separate fires started in the early afternoon when energized power lines were blown down by high winds. One fire started at 45th and Neva road, and another on the west side of Highway 36 near Olde Stage Road.
The Neva Road fire destroyed one home and three large outbuildings, and threatened many rural residences. The Old Stage fire burned north and east towards Joder Ranch and Crestview Estates. The fire jumped highway 36 in several places and merged with the Neva Road fire, burned east towards Lake Valley Estates and south towards the Dakota Ridge subdivision.
These two fires were fueled mostly by grasses, and were being fanned by 60 mph Chinook Winds.
Collectively the fires burned approximately 3,008 acres.