'This Is the Kind of Fire We Can't Fight Head On'

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated northwest of Denver
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2021 1:14 AM CST
Hundreds of Homes Burned in Colorado Wildfires
A firefighter walks up a road near a home at Middle Fork Road and Foothills Highway north of Boulder, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.   (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera via AP)

An estimated 580 homes, a hotel, and a shopping center have burned and tens of thousands of people were evacuated in wind-fueled wildfires outside Denver, officials said Thursday evening. Just a few injuries have been reported so far, but authorities didn’t rule out finding out later about more severe injuries or death due to the intensity of fires that quickly swept across the region as winds gusted up to 105mph, the AP reports.

The first fire erupted just before 10:30am and was “attacked pretty quickly and laid down later in the day and is currently being monitored” with no structures lost, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. A second wildfire, reported just after 11am, “ballooned and spread rapidly east,” Pelle said. The blaze spans 2.5 square miles and has engulfed parts of the area in smoky, orangish skies and sent residents scrambling to get to safety. Thursday night’s wind activity will determine when crews are able to go in and begin assessing the damage and searching for any victims.

"This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head on," Pelle said. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun,” he added. The city of Louisville, which has a population of about 21,000, was ordered to evacuate after residents in Superior, which has 13,000 residents, were told to leave. The neighboring towns are roughly 20 miles northwest of Denver. Several blazes started in the area Thursday, at least some sparked by downed power lines. Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, had an extremely dry and mild fall, and winter so far has continued to be mostly dry. Snow was expected Friday in the region, though. (More Colorado stories.)

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