Hundreds of homes could be lost in fast-growing wildfires in the U.S. state of Colorado, officials said Thursday, as flames ripped through areas parched by a historic drought.
At least 1,600 acres have burned in largely suburban Boulder County with warnings that death and injury were likely as the blaze gripped hotels and malls in the city by Superior.
“We know that approximately 370 houses in the Sagamore subdivision … have been lost. There is a potential of 210 lost homes in Old Superior, ”Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a press conference.
“The Target shopping complex in Superior is on fire; the Element Hotel in Superior is totally swallowed up.
“I would like to stress that due to the scale and intensity of this fire and its presence in such a populated area, we would not be surprised if there were any injuries or deaths.”
The Colorado Sun newspaper reported that a number of people had been treated for burns, with at least six patients in a hospital.
Photographs posted on Twitter showed huge flames hovering over what appear to be rows of houses.
From our photog @dave_wille near the Flatirons. These fires continue to destroy entire neighborhoods. @CBSDenver #MarshallFire pic.twitter.com/UMViz2reI6
– Ryan Greene 📷 (@ RyanCBS4) December 31, 2021 Video shows a fire in a parking lot, with trees and grass on fire, as a strong wind pushes smoke.
Thousands of people have been told to flee the fast-moving blaze, which is believed to have started when power lines were knocked down by gusts of wind.
Patrick Kilbride, 72, was working in a hardware store when he heard the order to evacuate, the Denver Post reported.
He ran home to collect his things, but could not save anything other than his car and the clothes he was wearing.
Both her dog and her cat perished.
“It’s ashes,” he said of the house he has lived in for three decades.
“It’s not a house. If you need a hearth fireplace, that’s all that’s left.
“It’s just a weird feeling to go from having it all to making life comfortable to having nothing,” he said.
The 20,000-strong town of Louisville, along with the 13,000 residents of Superior, have been ordered out, with the National Weather Service calling the situation “life threatening.”
“Like the neighborhood you live in”
Wind gusts of more than 160 kilometers per hour were reported in some places, stoking the flames and complicating the firefighting efforts by preventing planes from taking off.
Apocalyptic views from #MarshallFire in Louisville, Colorado. mind boggling what happened today. #COwx pic.twitter.com/D4RRdhMXGU
– US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) December 31, 2021 Colorado Governor Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency, following what he called a devastating blaze.
Unlike previous fires in the state, he said, this one is not in the countryside; that’s where people live.
“This area is right in and around the suburban sub-developments, stores,” he said.
“It’s like the neighborhood you live in. It’s like the neighborhood each of us lives in. And so 1,600 acres near a population center can be, and in this case are, absolutely devastating. “
Like much of the American West, Colorado is in the throes of a multi-year drought that has left the region parched and vulnerable to wildfires.
Although fires are a natural part of the climate cycle and help clear dead brush and reduce disease in vegetation, their magnitude and intensity is increasing.
Scientists say that global warming, mainly caused by human activities like the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels, is changing weather patterns.
This prolongs droughts in some areas and causes unusually large storms for the season in other places, phenomena that are expected to worsen as global average temperatures continue to rise.
Daniel Swain, a meteorologist at the University of California, tweeted that it was “hard to believe” that these fires were setting in December, a generally quieter time for the fires.
Really hard to believe this is happening at the end of December in Boulder, CO. But take a record fall heat and drought, only 1 inch of snow so far this season, and add an extreme windstorm (100mph +) downhill … and extremely fast / dangerous fires result. #COwx #MarshallFire pic.twitter.com/rd7L3JOFI8
– Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) December 30, 2021 “But take a record fall heat and drought, only 1 inch of snow so far this season, and add an extreme windstorm (100 mph +) downhill. and extremely rapid / dangerous fires are the result.
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