‘Evacuate now. Go north or east’: Thousands of terrified Boulder residents flee as TWO fast-moving DECEMBER wildfires – whipped up by 100mph winds – burn: entire cities of Superior and Louisville are evacuated
- Two grass fires were sparked in Colorado on Thursday morning after strong winds caused power lines to fall and transformers to explode
- Six people have been taken to hospital in Broomfield with burns, a hospital spokesman confirmed
- Residents of Superior, home to 12,500, and Louisville, population 21,000, are being evacuated as the fires continue, with the Marshall Fire threatening the town and affecting an estimated 1,200 acres
- Three hundred homes have been destroyed, CBS News’s Alan Gionet reported, citing a firefighting source
- Boulder County residents have been told to flee if they see smoke or flames and evacuation centers have been established around the area
- Pre-evacuation orders have been issued for some parts of the town of Broomfield as the Marshall Fire continues to spread
- Thousands of people are reportedly out of power as the wind storm rages on
- Roads have been closed as high wind have blown several vehicles over and Denver International Airport has halted flights
- Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency, and tweeted: ‘Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded’
Colorado’s governor has issued a state of emergency as two wildfires swept the grasslands around Boulder, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and destroying an estimated 300 homes.
Six people were taken to hospital with burns said Kelli Christensen, a spokeswoman for UC Health in Broomfield, speaking to The Colorado Sun.
Thousands of frightened residents have been ordered to evacuate after strong winds downed power lines and caused a transformer to explode, sparking two fast-moving grass fires, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The Middle Fork Fire is north of Boulder near the intersection of North Foothills Highway and Middle Fork Road.
The Marshall Fire is south of Boulder close to the intersection of South Cherryvale Road and Marshall Drive.
The size of the fires have not been confirmed, but some estimates put the Marshall Fire at 1,200 acres.
All residents of Superior, a total of about 4,000 households, have been instructed to evacuate, authorities announced. Evacuees were directed to the South Boulder Recreation Center – where the power has now been knocked out – the Lafayette YMCA, or the Longmont Senior Center.
Three hundred homes have been destroyed, reported CBS News’s Alan Gionet.
‘A firefighting source tells me over 300 homes are likely lost, mostly in Superior in #MarshallFire,’ Gionet tweeted.
‘“This is Waldo Canyon fire on steroids.”’
Residents of Louisville, population 21,000, have also been directed to quickly evacuate. The South Boulder Recreation Center is serving as an evacuation site.
Shoppers at a Costco in the town of Superior were evacuated, with Tison Hoff, a shipping receiving manager for the company, tweeting dramatic footage of the smoke blotting out the sun.
Small fires were seen burning around the parking lot as Hoff drove away from the scene.
Back at his home, he tweeted the footage and then added: ‘Scariest day of my life.’
Other social media users shared footage of the smoke and burning grasses around the store.
Two wildfires were sparked near Boulder, Colorado this morning after strong winds caused downed power lines and exploding transformers in the area
Residents of Superior and Louisville have begun to be evacuated. Citizens of Boulder County have been warned to flee to if they see flames
A motorist captured the flames flickering along the side of the road near Boulder on Thursday
Thousands are without power and roads have been closed as the winds and fire persist
Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said any residents who can see fire should leave immediately. All local residents were instructed to close their windows to protect against the smoke.
‘In the case of evacuation, head east or north. Do not evacuate to the south,’ the Louisville Police Department warned.
Huge plumes of smoke filled the air as the dangerous winds continued to blow the fires along.
The National Weather Service reported an ‘extraordinary’ gust of wind reaching 105 mph just south of the Boulder city limit Thursday morning.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis tweeted: ‘Prayers for thousands of families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County. Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded.’
Denver International Airport has been put in a ground delay, meaning flights will be pushed back at least 40 minutes.
The city of Boulder activated its Emergency Operations Center to help residents respond to the active situation.
Multiple structures reportedly caught fire, and thousands of people were reportedly without power after the intense winds sent power lines crashing to the ground.
Xcel Energy reported more than 48 power outages affecting close to 4,700 customers, Fox 31 reported.
The Colorado State Patrol closed Highway 93 between Highway 58 and Highway 128; Highway 36; and US 36, among other roads, noting that ‘several high profile vehicles have been blown over due to the wind.’
University of Colorado Boulder Facilities Management confirmed that many trees and branches on the campus have been toppled over by the winds.
The Boulder Office of Emergency Management made clear that the fires are their top priorities and have requested that people only call their hotline in regards to the fire.
‘We DO NOT need donations at this time–please don’t call the EOC. We need to keep the lines clear. Thank you,’ the office tweeted.
The forecast calls for the wind speeds to remain high Thursday afternoon as a cold front pushes through, but to decrease to 20 to 30 mph on Thursday night.
There is a possibility of snow on Friday.