Ferocious hurricane-force winds helped spark wildfires that spread to over 1,600 acres and prompted hasty evacuations near Denver, Colorado, including the entire town of Superior and city of Louisville.
The latest: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon as a result of the fires, enabling the government to access emergency disaster funds in response to the situation.
- About 580 homes were lost in Superior, Boulder sheriff Joe Pelle said. A hotel and a shopping center were also burned, Pelle added.
- He said that there was one reported injury, but that there likely could be more injuries and deaths because of how fast the fire moved. As of Thursday, there are no missing persons reports.
- The highest wind gusts on Thursday was a staggering 115 mph, per NWS Boulder.
Driving the news: Several small grass fires were sparked in the region by downed power lines and blown transformers, Fox 31 Denver reported.
- Pell said the preliminarily cause of the fires may be due to downed power lines, but an actual determination will come later in the week.
Our current view of the #MarshallFire from Boulder. We are deeply saddened for all who have lost today. #COwx pic.twitter.com/Qq95K5yfEx
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) December 31, 2021
What they’re saying: “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,” Polis tweeted.
Meanwhile, here in Boulder County, the drive down Cherry toward McCaslin in Louisville, CO…#MarshallFire #COWX #COWind pic.twitter.com/fJ5w5Gy9ub
— Kendall Ruth (@iamkendall) December 30, 2021
The big picture: The blazes have been fueled by extremely strong, down-sloping winds, which involve air moving off the Rocky Mountains and down the foothills, into communities including Boulder. These winds have exceeded 100 mph at times, the equivalent of a strong Category 1 hurricane.
This photo was taken by one of our patrol officers in the parking lot of the Panda Express in Superior. Near Target. This area has been evacuated. pic.twitter.com/wJaOY8ccTZ
— Broomfield Police (@BroomfieldPD) December 30, 2021
Andrew Freedman contributed reporting.
Editor’s note: This headline and story have been corrected to say the fires are near Denver, Colorado, not in the Denver metro area.
This content was originally published here.