The storm’s winds ignited wildfires near Boulder, Colorado, destroying hundreds of homes, overwhelming firefighters and forcing the evacuation of entire drought-stricken towns.
More than 500 homes were engulfed in flames on Thursday, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle reported at a news conference, warning of possible casualties.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who lives in Boulder, declared a state of emergency as thousands abandoned the communities of Superior and Louisville, congesting roads and highways. Residents in other areas of Boulder County have been warned that they may also need to leave.
Carmen Porter, who lives in Boulder near Louisville, said in a phone interview: “We saw a plume of fire at least a mile long” as we evacuated. “The houses in the subdivision to the south, facing us, must have burned down.”
Wind gusts rumbled from the Rocky Mountains at up to 110 miles (177 km) an hour, follow for the National Weather Service. “If you are in Louisville, this is a life-threatening situation. Leave now!,” “weather service” speak on Twitter.
The main fire, the Marshall Fire, had burned about 1,600 acres by 5 p.m., the Denver Gazette reported.
Radar image from the weather service showed a plume of smoke extending more than 70 miles, and more than 51,000 homes and businesses without power, according to Power outage .us, monitor the utility’s power failure.
“We’re literally watching it burn up,” Upper Mayor Clint Folsom, as quoted by the Denver Post. “This is devastating for our people.”
Disaster services have opened evacuation centers in Boulder County, including a site for horses and other large animals. The weather agency is forecasting heavy snow for the area on Friday.
Patients at Centura-Avista Adventist Hospital in Superior were “safely evacuated” to other facilities, the Centura hospital operator said in a statement.
–With support from Stephen Stapczynski
https://time.com/6132219/wildfires-colorado/ Wildfires caused by gusty winds destroy hundreds of homes in Colorado