A raging wildfire in Boulder County, Colorado, engulfed about 1,600 acres in a matter of hours, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing the evacuation of 30,000 people in two communities.
370 homes were destroyed in a single subdivision just west of Superior, and another 210 homes may have been lost in Old Town Superior, according to the sheriff on Thursday. There were no immediate reports of deaths or missing people.
In Colorado, approximately 15,000 customers were without power early Friday, the majority of whom were in Boulder County. According to a UCHealth spokesperson, at least six people were treated for injuries related to one of the fires on Thursday. A police officer suffered a minor eye injury from blowing debris. Chris Smith and his wife, of downtown Superior, received a call Thursday morning from their daughters’ day care in nearby Louisville, instructing them to “come pick up the girls.” “Please act quickly,” city officials said in their evacuation order.
“I called my wife, and she began gathering valuables and clothing to evacuate,” Smith explained. On his way there and back, he drove through smoke.
Roads across the fire zone were blocked by smoke and traffic gridlock as people attempted to flee.
Families with young children could see smoke out wide windows at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Superior and made their way toward an exit, according to video taken by Jason Fletcher. According to Hunt Frye, who took video from the hazy parking lot of a Costco in Superior, customers were told to calmly leave their carts and leave. According to Pelle, a shopping center and a hotel in Superior also caught fire on Thursday.
White smoke clouded a charcoal sky just across the parking lot and a street from an ICU room at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, according to video from Kara Plese. According to hospital officials, the hospital has been completely evacuated and all patients have been transferred or discharged. According to a news release, Good Samaritan Medical Center in nearby Lafayette has also begun transferring some of its most critical and fragile patients.
According to video posted by Broomfield Police, flames burned right next to roads in Superior and Louisville, and thick smoke made visibility nearly impossible. In another video, houses are engulfed in flames.
According to preliminary reports, the Marshall Fire was caused by downed power lines, according to Sheriff Joe Pelle. Deputies confirmed downed lines in the fire zone, and he added that a final determination would be made in the coming days. The Middle Fork Fire was also started, but it was quickly “put out,” according to the sheriff at a press conference.
Wind gusts of up to 100 mph in Jefferson and Boulder counties on Thursday pushed the fire “down a football field in a matter of seconds,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said. Though evacuees were not permitted to return Thursday night, some were already working to begin the recovery process. On Facebook, a search party was planned for the weekend. Hundreds of people posted on another Facebook page about animals they are looking for or have found in and around the burned areas.
Given the size and intensity of the fire, the sheriff said Thursday that he would not be surprised if the number of casualties or missing people changes soon.
Polis declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
“For those who are unfamiliar with this area of Boulder County, it is right next to and around suburban sub-developments and stores. It’s similar to the neighborhood where you live; it’s similar to the neighborhood where any of us lives “Thursday, the governor stated. Polis stated that evacuation centers were open, including one for evacuees with Covid-19. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also announced late Thursday that federal funds would be used to help fight the fire.
“We are devastated by the destruction and losses we are witnessing,” Superior wrote on Twitter Thursday evening, just hours after issuing an evacuation order.