Colorado Boulder Marshall fire – latest updates
A fast-moving wildfire fanned by powerful winds ripped through towns between Boulder and Denver in Colorado, burning down hundreds of homes, prompting the evacuation of about 30,000 residents on Thursday.
Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency, allowing the state to deploy emergency funds and resources including Colorado National Guard.
The wind gusts of 110 miles per hour had pushed fire at an astonishing speed across the neighbourhood, burning down more than 1,600 acres.
“This fire is, frankly, a force of nature,” said Mr Polis. “For those who have lost everything that they’ve had, know that we will be there for you to help rebuild your lives.”
The grass fire is believed to have been ignited by sparks from power lines and transformers toppled by high winds of Colorado’s drought-parched Front Range, according to Boulder Couty Sheriff Joe Pelle.
An entire subdivision of 370 homes burned down in Superior, where the evacuation order were first issued to the population of 13,000, said the sheriff. About 210 dwellings were also lost in the Old Town area of Superior.
The 18,000 residents of the adjacent municipality of Louisville were also ordered to evacuate.
According to the sheriff, there are currently no reports of casualties or missing people. Six people injured in the fires are being treated at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, said spokesperson Kelli Christensen.
Footage captures spread of wildfire
An airline passenger has captured footage of the spread of the wildfire in Boulder, Colorado.
The bird’s eye view shows multiple blazes as thousands of people have been told to evacuate the area and Governor Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency.
Videos captures families Videos fleeing Chuck E Cheese and Costco
Customers rushed to evacuate a Costco retail store and a Chuck E Cheese restaurant in Superior, Colorado, on Thursday after a wildfire started spreading rapidly across the area due to gusty winds.
A video taken from inside the Chuck E Cheese outlet shared by Twitter user Jason Fletcher showed large patches of flames just a few metres away from the building. Parents were seen screaming inside the outlet as they tried to gather their children to leave the outlet.
Multiple people had to struggle to open the outlet’s main entrance because of strong winds.
Read the report from my colleague Alisha Rahaman Sarkar:
People were seen scrambling to get hold of the children to leave the building
FEMA to pay 75 per cent of the firefighting cost
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay 75 per cent of the state’s firefighting costs as it authorised funding to help fight the Marshall Fire.
The grant money provided through President’s Disaster Relief fund can be used for setting up field camps, equipment use, repair and replacement work, tools, materials and supplies.
The grants are available “to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster,” according to FEMA.
A house burnt down in 20 minutes
Gripping the intensity with which the fire is spreading and destroying everything on its way, a picture by 9 News photojournalist Chris Hansen showed a house previously untouched by the wildfire, up in flames in 20 minutes.
“Twenty minutes ago, this house along Harper Lake in Louisville was untouched by fire. Now it’s gone. Two people stand outside,” tweeted 9 News journalist Kyle Clark.
High wind warning in Boulder county cancelled
The National Weather Service cancelled the high wind warnings in Boulder county.
“Good news. The High Wind Warning have all been cancelled. Still some gusty/variable winds to contend with, but fortunately the stronger winds are now over,” tweeted the NWS.
Earlier, wind gusts of over 110 miles per hour was registered in the region and was cited as a major factor contributing to the rapid spread of the wildfire.
What caused the wildfire in Colorado
The wildfire is believed to have been started by downed power lines, along with a combination of wind gusts over 100 miles per hour and widespread drought, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
Daniel Swain, a meteorolgist at the University of California, tweeted that it was “genuinely hard to believe” these fires were happening in December, which is usually a quieter time for blazes.
“But take a record warm & dry fall, only 1 inch of snow so far this season, & add an extreme (100mph ) downslope windstorm…and extremely fast moving/dangerous fires are the result.”
Dramatic footage captures the chaos in Superior
Dramatic video footage captured the extent of chaos in Costco in Superior as people evacuated following the wildfire that engulfed the region.
The video, which played out on Denver7 News, showed people trying to navigate their way through the dense smoke. The cars were moving slowly, as the residents tried to cross the road amid a drastically declined visibility range.
The sound of the fire brigade could be heard over that of strong winds as several attempted to get into their cars to escape the wildfire.
Louisville hospital forced to evacuate
All patients and staff in the 114-bed facility of Avista Adventist Hospital was fully evacuated after a wildfire started not far from the hospital.
“As of 4.15 pm, Centura-Avista Adventist Hospital is fully evacuated. All patients were safely transferred to two of our sister facilities within Centura – Longmont United Hospital or St. Anthony North, and some were discharged from the hospital. All associates at this time have also been evacuated,” said the release from Centura Health.
Firefighting conditions expected to improve as winds decrease
According to the National Weather Service, firefighting conditions were expected to improve overnight as winds decrease late on Thursday.
The reduced speed would enable the firefighters to get ahead of the flames and for water-dropping helicopters and airplane tankers to be deployed against the blaze.
The agency however, extended the high-speed warning through 8 pm local time. Snow expected on Friday could help douse the blaze, reported USA Today quoting a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Governor declares state of emergency in Colorado
Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on Thursday due to the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.
“The declaration allows the state to access disaster emergency funds to support the emergency response efforts in Boulder and provide state resources including the use of the Colorado National Guard, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and activation of the State Emergency Operations Center,” according to the statement.
“Prayers for thousands of families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County,” said the governor. “Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded.”