/Colorado Wildfires: More Than 30,000 People Ordered Evacuated – The New York Times

Colorado Wildfires: More Than 30,000 People Ordered Evacuated – The New York Times


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More than 30,000 residents of two communities in Boulder County, Colo., were ordered to evacuate because of wildfires driven by strong winds.CreditCredit…Trevor Hughes/USA Today Network, via Reuters

Fast-moving wildfires fanned by powerful winds swept across parts of Boulder County, Colo., on Thursday, prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and burning at least 500 homes, a shopping complex and a hotel, the authorities said.

The Boulder County Office of Emergency Management announced evacuation orders for Superior and Louisville, urging residents to leave quickly, as the sky turned orange, ash swirled in the wind, and buildings were engulfed in flames. Residents in parts of Broomfield, Colo., were also ordered to evacuate.

Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency in response to the grass fires, allowing the state to tap emergency funds and to deploy state resources, including the Colorado National Guard.

He said wind gusts of up to 110 miles per hour had pushed the fires with astonishing speed across suburban neighborhoods. More than 1,600 acres had burned since the fires started on Thursday morning, officials said.

“This fire is, frankly, a force of nature,” Mr. Polis said at a news conference. “For those who have lost everything that they’ve had, know that we will be there for you to help rebuild your lives.”

Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County described the fires as a “horrific event.” He said he believed that both fires were caused by downed power lines, and said he would not be surprised if there were deaths or injuries, although only one minor injury had been reported so far: a police officer who got debris in his eye.

All three of the communities under evacuation orders are southeast of Boulder. Louisville has about 21,200 residents. Superior has about 13,000 residents, and Broomfield has about 74,000 residents.

Emily Hogan, a spokeswoman for Louisville, said officials had ordered an evacuation for all but two parts of the city. Traffic was heavy, she said, as residents fled.

“It’s really smoky, and there are some areas where it’s been hard to breathe outside, and you can see flames depending on where you’re at in the city,” she said. “The situation is continuing to evolve rapidly and we want everyone to be prepared to take action, if needed.”

Avista Adventist Hospital, a 114-bed hospital in Louisville, said it had evacuated its neonatal intensive care and intensive care units as well as its emergency department, moving patients to two other hospitals. The hospital’s staff members were sheltering in place and nearby roads were closed, the hospital said.

The Louisville Police Department told residents to evacuate east or north.

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