Downed power lines sparked the blazes, according to officials
Multiple towns in the Boulder, Colorado, area are under mandatory evacuation orders after strong winds set off multiple wildfires.
Gusts as powerful as 110mph knocked over power lines and sparked grass fires near the town of Superior and city of Louisville, according to officials.
Colorado governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on Thursday afternoon.
“Prayers for families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter.
More than 30,000 residents, as well as hospital patients in the area, were ordered to leave, and sections of road on US-36 were closed.
“This is becoming a very high impact wind event for our area, please take it seriously and abide by any evacuation orders from local authorities,” the National Weather Service said in a tweet.
There are two main fires near Boulder, the Middle Fork Fire, to the north, and the more powerful Marshall Fire, to the south.
Early estimates suggested more than 1200 acres were aflame and 30 to 50 homes have been damaged.
At least six people have been hospitalised with injuries from the fires.
Officials activated the Boulder Emergency Operations Center at midday to respond to the wildfires.
The office maintains an up-to-date digital map featuring evacuation centres and the approximate locations of the fires on its website.
CBS Denver reporter Dillon Thomas captured a video of Coloradans runnings through clouds of smoke and high winds scattering debris as thousands sought to evacuate.
Other clips showed cars trying to leave the area, with smoke causing such poor visibility the sun was nearly blacked out and it was difficult to distinguish obstacles longer than a few car-lengths away.
Emergency officials asked that residents avoid calling police about downed power lines and semi-trucks, as 911 centers have been inundated with such messages. Additionally, they said emergency donations were not need at this time, and to avoid calling the Boulder Officer of Emergency Management to inquire about giving.
Winds are expected to taper off this evening, according to forecasters.
Residents in the affected towns have described gridlock on the roads.
The governor as well as local officials are expected to address the public at 5pm MST.