Thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate as several grass fires rapidly spread through Boulder County, Colorado
Wildfires fueled by strong winds have triggered evacuation orders for multiple towns in northern Colorado, with a thick wall of smoke seen sweeping through the area as some reportedly remain trapped in their homes.
The fast-moving fires led Boulder County to evacuate tens of thousands of residents on Thursday, with gusts in excess of 100 miles per hour helping feed the blaze.
The town of Superior, made up of some 13,000 residents, was the first to clear out on orders from the county’s Office of Emergency Management, followed by Louisville, a city just north of Superior with a population of more than 21,000.
Footage and photos circulating online showed a vast cloud of smoke and dust enveloping the area, as well as the evacuation in progress, with some cars seen stuck in traffic as skies turned an eerie orange. The high winds could also be heard in some videos.
If you want to see Dillon road/i36 an hour ago… pic.twitter.com/7FYjxhjCPt
— Em (@KnitsRose) December 30, 2021
— WildFire (@WildFlowerSeed_) December 30, 2021
A massive plume of ash could be seen on radar images shared by the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Boulder branch, giving some idea of the scale of the flames. The service deemed the situation “life threatening.”
Radar showing the huge plume of smoke and ash being released from the #marshallfire burning in Louisville & Superior. Also, another smaller fire reported south of Johnstown and Milliken areas. #COwx pic.twitter.com/WCi7NvhPZU
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) December 30, 2021
— Hunt (@Hunthk11) December 30, 2021
“Multiple structures” caught fire as the blaze made its way through Boulder County, according to Wildfire Today, which also reported that some residents are unable to leave their homes, though offered few details.
Last video. I’m moving!!! pic.twitter.com/GsesauMpGf
— Eric English (@EricEnglish777) December 30, 2021
The emergency office activated earlier in the day after downed power lines ignited fires in several areas, local media reported. Though two towns were given formal evacuation orders, the office told all residents in the area to “leave immediately” if they “see fire.”
Hope everyone is safe. It looks horrible. pic.twitter.com/Jcoc7SHwDU
— TheeKnopeFanLing (@LingZhiTweet) December 30, 2021
Whelp its certainly spreading pic.twitter.com/RPqRXGBt4p
— Bolin Jackson (@Bolin_Jackson) December 30, 2021
Local weather forecasts suggest that wind speeds will remain high throughout Thursday but will likely slow over night, while the NWS has issued a winter storm warning for the coming days, predicting heavy snows of between 12 and 24 inches across parts of northern Colorado.