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Wind-fueled fires spark evacuations in Boulder County, Colorado

AccuWeather
AccuWeather
 2021-12-31

Fires fanned by strong wind gusts prompted evacuation orders for about 30,000 people in Boulder County, Colorado, Thursday.

Officials said the rapidly moving fires burned an estimated 580 homes, as well as a hotel and a shopping center, according to The Associated Press. At least seven people have been injured, including a first responder, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said, according to the AP.

Of the two notable fires, the one which officials are referring to as the Marshall Fire started near Marshall Drive and Cherryvale Road near Superior and Louisville, south of the city of Boulder, according to the Boulder Emergency Operations Center (EOC). It was estimated to have reached 1,600 acres.

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The Fire Command issued an order of evacuation for the City of Louisville, a town of about 20,000 people, as the fire developed into what the National Weather Service called a "life-threatening situation" on Thursday. Superior, located about 20 miles northwest of Denver and home to some 13,000 people, was also ordered to evacuate.

"Several hours ago, several fires along the front range near Boulder, near Superior and Louisville, have sparked up," AccuWeather National Reporter Tony Laubach reported against a backdrop of smoke and intense wind. A 115-mph wind gust was recorded in Rocky Flats, Colorado, a few miles south of Superior, as strong winds battled firefighting efforts.

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon, allowing the state to access disaster emergency funds and services.

At least six people were hospitalized with burns at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, a spokesperson told USA Today. Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville was evacuated, save for some staff and patients who couldn't be moved, Times-Call reported.

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As of 3 a.m. Friday morning, local time, over 14,000 customers were without power in Boulder County, with a total of 15,100 customers without power throughout the state, according to PowerOutage.US.

Evacuations were underway at 96th Street and Dillon near Superior where Laubach reported westward traffic, consisting of people returning from work and trying to get back to their homes, was blocked by crews.

North of Boulder, the Middle Fork Fire, was reported near North Foothills Highway and Middle Fork Road. Earlier on Thursday, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office noted reports of downed power lines and transformers blowing, causing several small grass fires. However, the official causes of the Middle Fork Fire and the Marshall Fire have not been determined.

Additional reporting by AccuWeather National Reporter Tony Laubach

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