Colorado’s wildfires are shaping up to be the most destructive fires in state history in terms of property damage, according to reports.
Wildfires, propelled by 100 MPH winds, ripped through the Boulder County cities of Louisville and Superior, situated north of Denver on Thursday, Breitbart News reported. The Marshall and Middle Fork fires are believed to have destroyed hundreds, if not a thousand homes.
Photos of the #MarshallFire by @DenverGazette's Tim Hurst. The fire burning in Boulder County has forced evacuations of approximately 35,000 people and destroyed an estimated 580 homes — making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history in terms of structures lost. pic.twitter.com/I1c2zPBNuH
— Hannah Metzger (@hnmetzger) December 31, 2021
“I would estimate it’s going to be at least 500. I would not be surprised if it’s 1,000,” said Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle during a press conference Friday morning per the Denver Post.
Pelle previously estimated 370 homes were destroyed in Superior, while another 210 may have been lost in Old Town Superior, Breitbart News reported. The fire tore through 1,600 acres and it remains to be seen how many dwellings were scorched in “Louisville and unincorporated areas of Boulder County,” according to the Colorado Sun.
Some 1,778 homes were situated in the burn area with an estimated collective value of $825 million, the Denver Post reported. Not all of the homes were burned, but it may take another day or so before the exact number of homes lost becomes clear.
— Helen H. Richardson (@hrichardson) December 30, 2021
“This was consuming football-field lengths of land in seconds,” Pelle said at a Thursday news conference, per the Colorado Sun. “We had never seen anything like it. This was a horrific event.”
Pelle’s estimates suggest the wildfires were the most severe in state history in terms of damage. KUSA reported the estimated damage would surpass the 2013 Black Forest fire in El Paso County, which destroyed 498 homes, as the most destructive fire property-wise that Colorado has ever seen.
KDVR also reported the blaze may be the most destructive in terms of homes lost in state history.
As of Friday morning, no fatalities were reported, and no one was reported missing, according to Fox 6, but Pelle says there may be casualties when all is said and done.
“But given the ferocity and scope of this fire, it would not surprise me if we find casualties,” he said.
At least one first responder and five other individuals were injured.
Roughly 34,000 residents in Louisville and Superior were ordered to evacuate, Breitbart News reported. Residents outside of Boulder County, including those who live in parts of Broomfield, were told to evacuate as well, per CBS Denver.
Emergency responders are evacuating towns of Superior and Louisville, #Colorado as thousands of people are rushing to evacuate
— Dillon Thomas (@DillonMThomas) December 30, 2021
Evacuation and pre-evacuations for areas outside of Boulder County were lifted overnight, the Denver Post reported.
Superior’s evacuation order was still in place as of 6:47 a.m. local time Friday.
The Town of Superior remains in evacuation status. No one is being allowed into the Town at the moment. Please stay where you are until announcements from Boulder OEM or the Town are given.
— Town of Superior, Colorado (@townofsuperior) December 31, 2021
At 7:29 a.m. local time, the Boulder Office of Emergency Management reiterated that no residents should reenter evacuation zones.
Residents who evacuated/have property in evacuation zones, please do NOT return to the area. We know that you are concerned about your home/belongings. We will notify you about re-entering your homes as soon as we can!
— Boulder OEM (@BoulderOEM) December 31, 2021
Some of the wildfires were started by downed power lines, Breitbart News reported.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) declared a state of emergency on Thursday and flew over the affected areas to assess the damage on Friday.
This morning I’m joined by our emergency management experts to inspect the damage caused by the Marshall and Middle Fork fires. This is a tragedy and the emergency is not over. We will work together to support Coloradans affected by this devastating fire #coloradostrong pic.twitter.com/fIXdeEl7er
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) December 31, 2021
The fires occurred as Colorado’s Front Range has had a dry winter, according to Fox 6. The area set a record for consecutive days without snowfall before a small storm hit the greater Denver area on December 10. Since then, it has not snowed.
The first significant snowfall is expected to hit the location Friday afternoon, which will aid efforts.
“There’s still areas burning inside the fire zone, around homes and shrubbery, but we’re not expecting to see any growth of the fire,” Pelle said Friday, per the Denver Post. “I think we’re pretty well contained.”