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Mark Davenport, a Louisville resident who was evacuated from the Marshall fire a year ago, watches the Sunshine Canyon fire from Davidson Mesa on the east edge of Louisville Dec. 19, 2022. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Firefighters in Boulder County are evacuating neighborhoods in Sunshine Canyon, west of Boulder, as a structure fire quickly blew up into a wildland fire fueled by wind gusting upward of 40 mph. 

The Sunshine Wildland Fire is about 25% contained, Boulder County authorities said Monday evening, hours after the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents for the fire burning near the 2900 block of Sunshine Canyon Drive. Authorities said fire crews first responded to a structure fire shortly before 2 p.m. 

About 200 firefighters are working to get the fire, estimated at 18 acres, under control, Boulder County’s Office of Emergency Management said.

Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks rangers asked all visitors on trails on Mount Sanitas to leave the area Monday afternoon. 

The National Weather Service in Boulder has issued a red flag warning for the area and said strong westerly winds from 15 to 25 mph are expected until 6 p.m. with gusts up to 45 mph. The winds are coming ahead of a strong cold front that is expected to move into Colorado starting Wednesday.

The Red Cross opened an overnight evacuation center at the East Boulder Recreation Center.

The Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont is serving as an evacuation area for large animals, Boulder County’s Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley is accepting small animals.

The fire broke out nearly one year after the wind-driven Marshall fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes in nearby Louisville, Superior and Boulder County.

A panoramic view of the Sunshine Canyon wildfire, which forced the evacuation of hundreds of households in the foothills and sent smoke billowing east, past the Valmont Power Plant in Boulder, on Dec. 19, 2022. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This is a breaking news story that will be updated.

Olivia Prentzel

Olivia Prentzel is a general assignment writer for The Colorado Sun. Email: