Wildfires just outside Denver have destroyed almost 600 homes, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and sending several victims to a local hospital.
The first of the wildfires started around 10:30 a.m. Thursday and was quickly contained, according to the Associated Press (AP). The second wildfire was first reported around 11:00 a.m. and spread rapidly, engulfing 2.5 square miles.
“This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head on.” Authorities fear there could be deaths after a winter wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes, chewed through a shopping center and hopscotched through dumpsters and parking lots in Boulder County, Colorado. https://t.co/dNI4fkZ2gN
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 31, 2021
Smaller fires popped up from downed power lines and 105 mph wind gusts that rapidly spread the fire, the AP reported.
“This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head on,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said, according to the AP. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun.”
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) December 31, 2021
At least one first responder and six more victims, who were taken to UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, sustained injuries during the fire, the AP reported. However, more injuries are expected.
Officials have ordered residents in both Louisville and Superior to evacuate, according to the AP. Both have a combined population of roughly 34,000 people. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Flights Delayed As Wildfires Rage Across Western US)
“I spent a couple of hours yesterday driving around in the afternoon with the sheriff’s office and town manager just making an assessment of the situation there on the ground and it’s grave,” Superior Mayor Clint Folsom said Friday. “It’s nothing like I would have ever imagined would have happened.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency in order to distribute emergency funds to help fight the fires.
Genuinely hard to believe this is happening in late December in Boulder, CO. But take a record warm & dry fall, only 1 inch of snow so far this season, & add an extreme (100mph+) downslope windstorm…and extremely fast moving/dangerous fires are the result. #COwx #MarshallFire pic.twitter.com/rd7L3JOFI8
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) December 30, 2021
Roughly 90% of Boulder County has not seen substantial rainfall since the middle of the summer, creating severe and extreme drought conditions, the AP reported. However, the Boulder area could see up to a foot of snowfall Saturday.
“I’m devastated by the fires across Boulder County that have destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses and have displaced thousands,” Polis said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “This is tragic and my prayers are with all affected by this tragedy.”
“Thank you to our firefighters, police officers, first responders, local governments, volunteers, and all who have sprung into action as we face these unprecedented wildfires,” Polis added. “Colorado stands with everyone in Boulder County, we stand ready to help everyone rebuild their lives after this tragedy.”