Hundreds of homes burned in Colorado wildfire, people evacuated

Image Source: AP

Hundreds of homes burned in Colorado wildfire, people evacuated

Officials said Thursday evening that an estimated 580 homes, a hotel and a shopping center had burned down and thousands were evacuated to wind-powered woods outside Denver. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pele said only one injury had been reported, but did not rule out later detection of more serious injuries or fatalities due to the intensity of the fire that quickly spread across the area as winds 105 mph (169 kph). ,

The wildfire spread over 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers) engulfed parts of the area in smoky, orange skies as residents scrambled to find safety.

The city of Louisville, with a population of about 21,000, was ordered to evacuate after residents in Superior, which has 13,000 residents, were asked to leave. The neighboring city is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Denver.

Several blasts started in the area on Thursday, at least some of which were caused by the shutdown of power lines. Six people injured in the fire are being treated at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, spokeswoman Kelly Christensen said. A nearby portion of US Highway 36 was also closed.

Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, had extremely dry and mild winters, and so far the winter has remained mostly dry. However, there is a possibility of snowfall in the area on Friday.

A video captured by a bystander outside a Superior Costco store shows an apocalyptic scene in which winds blow through barren trees in a parking lot surrounded by gray skies, a misty sun and small fires scattered across the ground.

Leah Angstman and her husband saw similarly dark skies as they returned to their Louisville home from Denver International Airport after being away for the holidays. As they boarded the bus headed for Boulder, Angstmann immediately remembered leaving the clear blue sky and entering clouds of brown and yellow smoke.

“The wind shook the bus so hard that I thought the bus would hit,” she wrote in a message to the Associated Press.

Visibility was so bad that the bus had to turn over and they waited for half an hour until a regional transit authority van took them to divert on the highway. There he saw four separate fires burning in the bushes across the highway, he said.

“The sky was dark, dark gray, and the dirt was scurrying across the sidewalk like snakes,” she said.

Angstmann later ended the evacuation without knowing where they would end up, getting in the car with her husband and driving to the northeast. Vignesh Kasinath, assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was evacuated from a neighborhood of Superior with his wife and her parents. Kashinath said the family was overwhelmed by the sudden evacuation warnings and alarmed by the chaos during the attempt to leave.

“It is only because I am active on Twitter that I came to know about this,” said Kashinath, who said he had not received an official evacuation notice from the authorities.

The fire prompted Governor Jared Polis to declare a state of emergency, allowing the state to access the disaster emergency fund. The evacuation comes as climate change is making the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists say. A historic drought and heat waves have made it harder to fight wildfires in the US West.

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