DENVER – Hundreds of homes were feared burned in Boulder County after hurricane-force winds fueled the growth of a grass fire that eventually exploded to 1,600 acres in size, shutting down roads and forcing thousands of people to evacuate Thursday.
“We know that there are structures – both homes and businesses that have been lost – hundreds of structures,” said Joe Pelle, the Boulder County Sheriff, as he provided an update Thursday afternoon on the Marshall Fire, which started around S. Cherryvale Road and Marshall Drive at around 11 a.m.
Initial figures from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office estimate about 580 homes have so far been lost due to the blaze which has spread east to Superior and Louisville. The breakdown of those losses is as follows:
- Approximately 370 homes in the Sagamore subdivision west of Superior have been lost.
- Another 200 have burned in Olde Town Superior, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
While only one small injury to an officer has been officially confirmed, Pelle said the department would not be surprised if there are more injuries or eventual causalities from the blaze.
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UCHealth confirmed earlier in the day it had received six patients at their Broomfield hospital in connection to these fires, but their conditions were unknown.
Conditions were still volatile and unsafe for residents, Pelle said during the news briefing at around 5 p.m. Thursday, and he urged people placed under pre-evacuation to evacuate anyway as 110 mph wind gusts were moving the fire through a football field of land in a matter of seconds, he said.
“The eyes of the nation and from Colorado turn to Boulder County where at least a 1,600-acre fire has destroyed hundreds of homes,” Gov. Jared Polis said during the news conference. “For those who’ve lost everything that they have, know that we will be there for you to rebuild your lives in the state of Colorado.”
Polis said the Marshall Fire, which is believed to have ignited from downed power lines, was in and around suburban developments, so a 1,600-acre blaze can be – and is – devastating for people living in the area, but said there was no way to quantify in any financial way the personal loss people would feel once they were allowed to return.
Polis called on Coloradans to reach out and lend a hand to the thousands affected by the fire, which he called "a force of nature."
Several evacuation centers were established to help evacuated people find shelter and resources they may need. Those evacuation centers are:
- North Boulder Recreation Center, 3170 Broadway
- Longmont Senior Center, 910 Longs Peak Ave. in Longmont
- YMCA of Northern Colorado, 2800 Dagny Way in Lafayette
- 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield
Evacuees with large animals were asked to go to the Boulder County Fairgrounds. People who were COVID-19 positive were asked to go Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, located at 3485 Stanford Ct. in Boulder.
At least one hospital and many healthcare facilities have been evacuated, officials said. Evacuated residents who had family or friends in area hospitals were asked to contact those hospitals to check on their status.
“The end won’t come until the wind subsides,” said Pelle as he talked about how difficult it was for firefighters to battle this wildfire. “This is a type of fire you can’t fight head on. All they can try to do is protect the next structure (in front of them). We hope the winds subside and we hope firefighters get ahead of a fire.”
Pelle said the weather looks much more favorable for firefighting on Friday and winds will die down, so crews will have a chance to contain it.
This is still an evolving, developing situation. For the latest updates, click here.