By DEREK DRAPLIN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Wind-fueled fires swept through parts of Boulder County on Thursday, leading to extensive property damage and thousands of residents evacuating.
The Marshall fire has caused an estimated 35,000 people to evacuate from the towns of Superior, Louisville, and Broomfield, with approximately 6,000 acres burned and 580 homes destroyed, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management (BOEM).
Another fire, the Middle Fork fire, was reported earlier Thursday but contained, with emergency response moving resources to focus on the Marshall fire.
Officials suspect the Marshall fire stems from downed power lines, with winds topping 100 miles per hour spreading the fire.
During a briefing Friday morning alongside Gov. Jared Polis, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said that there are no confirmed casualties from the fires.
“This was a disaster in fast motion, all over the course of half a day,” Gov. Polis said. “Many families having minutes to get whatever they could – their pets, their kids – into the car and leave. The last 24 hours have been devastating.”
Gov. Polis, who declared a state of emergency on Thursday, said he spoke with President Joe Biden, who gave “verbal authorization” for a major disaster declaration to be finalized Friday to provide federal aid.
The state of emergency declaration makes funds available for state and local response efforts.
Evacuation centers for residents have been established in Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmont.
Officials are warning residents to stay out of the evacuated areas.
“Incident management is working with utility companies to turn on water and gas to undamaged areas and turn off utilities to damaged areas,” BOEM said in an update. “These are part of our efforts to protect homes from freezing temperatures.