Colorado Fires: Nearly 600 homes destroyed, 30,000 forced to evacuate in intense Boulder County wildfire

DENVER – A raging wildfire that began Thursday morning in Boulder County, Colorado, has devoured about 1,600 acres in a matter of hours, burned hundreds of homes and displaced about 30,000 people in two communities.

Amid historically strong winds, about 370 homes have been destroyed in a single subdivision west of the town of Superior, while another 210 may have been destroyed, the sheriff said Thursday. was lost in Old Town Superior. No deaths or disappearances were immediately reported.

As soon as the winds start, they should subside overnight, with heavy snowfall in Friday’s forecast and the area under a winter weather warning, said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.

About 15,000 customers were without power early Friday in Colorado, most of them in Boulder County. A UCHealth spokesperson told CNN on Thursday at least six people were treated for injuries related to one of the fires. A law enforcement officer suffered minor eye injuries from blowing debris.

Chris Smith and his wife, of downtown Superior, received notice Thursday morning from their daycare in nearby Louisville to “come pick up the girls,” he told CNN affiliate KCNC. “Let’s act quickly,” city officials there urged in their evacuation orders.

“I called my wife, and she started packing up valuables and clothes to evacuate,” Smith said. He drove through the smoke on his way there and on his way back.

Across the fire area, roads were blocked with smoke and traffic jams as people tried to find their way out.

At a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Superior, families with young children could see smoke from the wide windows and make their way to the exit, video shot by Jason Fletcher shows.

“Right now,” one woman said. “OK.”

“I’m scared,” said one child as another woman leaned hard against the front door to pry open the door in the wind.

At a Costco store in Superior, shoppers were told to calmly get out of their cars and go, said Hunt Frye, who filmed the video from the hazy parking lot. Pelle said a shopping mall and a hotel in Superior also caught fire on Thursday.

From an ICU room at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, white smoke blanketed the coal sky just across the parking lot and one street, Kara Plese’s video shows. Officials there said the hospital was completely evacuated and patients were transferred or discharged. The Good Samaritan Medical Center in nearby Lafayette also began transferring some of its most critical and frail patients, according to a news release.

The fire burned right next to roads in Superior and Louisville, and the thick smoke made visibility nearly impossible, video posted by Broomfield Police showed. Another clip shows houses engulfed in flames.

Broken power lines could be the cause

Sheriff Joe Pelle said downed power lines appear to have caused the Marshall fire, Sheriff Joe Pelle said, citing preliminary reports. Delegates have confirmed downed lines in the fire zone and a final decision will be made in the coming days, he added. The sheriff said at a press conference.

Winds had dropped early Friday to below 20 mph, and the area is under a winter weather warning, with heavy snow expected to fall by sunrise, said CNN meteorologist Shackelford. sunrise in a drought-stricken state.

Strong winds Thursday — some exceeding 100 mph in Jefferson and Boulder counties — pushed the blaze “down a ballpark in seconds,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said.

“There’s no way,” he said, “to quantify in any way financially the cost of loss – the loss of the chair that was passed down to you from your grandmother, the loss of your childhood, the loss of your photos, the loss of your computer files – something hundreds of Colorado families have experienced today without warning.”

Recovery plans already underway

Although evacuees were still not allowed to return as of Thursday night, some were already working to begin recovery work. A search party has been scheduled on Facebook for the weekend. On another Facebook page, dozens of posts about animals they were looking for or finding in and around the burned areas.

An insurance agent in Superior heard from a client who believed they had lost their home, she told CNN affiliate KMGH.

“It’s just something you didn’t plan for. It was just devastating,” she said.

The sheriff wouldn’t be surprised if the number of casualties or missing soon changed, given the size and intensity of the fire, he said Thursday.

Polis on Thursday declared a state of emergency.

“This area, for those who don’t know this part of Boulder County, is right in and around developed suburbs, shops. It’s like the neighborhood you live in; it’s like the neighborhood that you live in. any of us live,” the governor said Thursday.

Polis said evacuation centers have been opened, including one for evacuees with Covid-19. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also announced late Thursday that it had authorized the use of federal funds to help fight fires.

“We are devastated by the devastation and loss we are experiencing,” the town of Superior wrote on Twitter on Thursday night, just hours after announcing the evacuation order.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. Copyright Registered. Colorado Fires: Nearly 600 homes destroyed, 30,000 forced to evacuate in intense Boulder County wildfire

Dais Johnston

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