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At least 500 homes destroyed by Colorado wildfires

WGAU
WGAU
 2021-12-31
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on Thursday after wildfires in two cities forced more than 30,000 residents to evacuate their homes.

Update 5:30 p.m. EST Dec. 31: President Joe Biden spoke Friday with Polis and “assured him that every effort will be made to provide immediate help to people in the impacted communities,” according to a readout of the call published by The White House.

Officials said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and her team were working Friday with officials in Colorado.

“Fortunately, snowfall will help bring an end to the fires, and recovery efforts can get underway,” White House officials said.

Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 31: At least 500 homes have been destroyed by the wildfires, The Associated Press reported. So far, there are no deaths known.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said that one community is nothing but “smoking holes in the ground” but there were no reports of anyone missing.

“It’s unbelievable when you look at the devastation that we don’t have a list of 100 missing persons,” Pelle said Friday.

One first responder and six others have been hurt.

So far the fires that started Thursday have not grown past 9.4 square miles and Pelle said it isn’t expected to spread.

The Denver region has mostly been devoid of snow, with only a small storm on Dec. 10. The area has also had a dry and mild fall with 90% of Boulder county in either severe or extreme drought.

“With any snow on the ground, this absolutely would not have happened in the way that it did,” snow hydrologist Keith Mussleman told the AP.

Original report: The governor issued the declaration after grass fires raged out of control, fanned by high winds, KMGH-TV reported. The fires were ignited when strong winds toppled power lines at about 11 a.m. MST, the television station reported.

The town of Superior and the city of Louisville have been evacuated, KDVR-TV reported.

The National Weather Service said a gust of 105 mph was reported in the Boulder area at around 11:30 a.m. MST.

The agency called it a “life-threatening” situation, adding, “Windy much?”

About 90 minutes later, the Boulder Office of Emergency Management ordered an evacuation notice for Superior, a town east of Boulder with a population of about 12,000 people. At 2 p.m. MST, fire command ordered an evacuation of Louisville’s roughly 20,000 residents, according to The Denver Post.

“Boulder County Office of Emergency Management has just announced an Evacuation Order for all of Superior, Colorado residents,” the town said on Twitter. “Evacuation point is the South Boulder Recreation Center. The Superior Community Center is not an official evacuation location.”

“If you are in Louisville, this is a life-threatening situation. Leave now!” fire officials tweeted.

The fires have resulted in a loss of power for 28,000 customers in the Denver Metro area, with 21,000 in Boulder County.

Colorado wildfires Smoke from a wildfire rises in the background, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Superior, Colo. All 13,000 residents of the northern Colorado town were ordered to evacuate Thursday because of a wildfire driven by strong winds. (AP Photo/David Zelio) (David Zelio/AP)

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