Hundreds of Colorado homes lost and tens of thousands of residents told to evacuate due to fast-growing wildfires.
Hundreds of homes have been lost after two wildfires started and grew quickly Thursday as high winds whipped through the Front Range in Colorado, forcing tens of thousands of residents from their homes, the Boulder County sheriff said.
Sheriff Joe Pelle estimated 580 homes or other structures in and around Superior may have been lost.
A shopping center and a hotel in Superior also were engulfed by the flames.
“Historic” 80-100 mph winds, with gusts in the state as high as 115 mph, fed the wildfires that injured at least six people, prompted a hospital to send patients elsewhere and forced the evacuation of Superior and Louisville near Boulder.
Colorado fire Live Updates
The Marshall Fire had burned at least 1,600 acres and had spread east across Superior and Louisville, the sheriff said. The other fire is known as the Middle Fork Fire, but Pelle said it was attacked quickly and “laid down.” Authorities were keeping an eye on it, the sheriff added.
There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties or missing people, Pelle said. One law enforcement officer suffered a minor eye injury from blowing debris.
“I’d like to emphasize that due to the magnitude of this fire, the intensity of this fire and its presence in such a heavily populated area, we would not be surprised if there are injuries or fatalities.”
The sheriff said any evacuees who have Covid-19 should go to a recovery center at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Boulder.
Gov. Jared Polis, who declared a state of emergency for the area, said the flames were traveling the length of a football field in just seconds.
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) December 31, 2021
“Very little time to get out, very little time to even get the most important parts of your life and, yes, it’ll be a difficult process for Colorado families who are directly affected to rebuild their lives,” he said.
Louisville and Superior are about 4 miles apart, not far from Boulder.
At least six people are being treated for injuries related to one of the fires, a spokesperson for UCHealth told CNN. Kelli Christensen said no more information was available for the patients, who are at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital.
Another hospital, Avista Adventist Hospital, was prompted to evacuate its patients and employees. The facility has 114 beds, according to its website. Authorities said hospital officials were more concerned about smoke than the flames that were only a few blocks from the facility.
“If you’re in the area, please act quickly,” the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management tweeted to Louisville residents.
Video from CNN affiliate KUSA showed several homes in Louisville on fire.
What we’re covering here
- Hundreds of structures have been destroyed and thousands of people have evacuated after a 1,600-acre fire
- spread across several communities in Boulder County, Colorado.
- The National Weather Service has called the situation “life-threatening” in the Superior and Louisville areas.
- The area experienced a short period of extreme winds. Winds are expected to die down on Friday.