The Marshall and Middle Fork fires that ignited in Boulder County today, Dec. 30, have already burned 1,600 acres off and destroyed over 600 homes. Probably caused by power lines sunk by extreme gusts of wind reaching 100 miles per hour, the Marshall fire is consuming parts of Superior and Louisville that have been ordered evacuated. Governor Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency due to the fire and summoned the National Guard.
At a press conference convened at 17. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle called the fires “a horrific event” and said the deputies and animal control officers working on the fires say they have never seen anything like it. Pelle shared that 370 homes in Sagamore Subdivision in Superior has been lost, 210 homes have potentially been lost in Old Town Superior, the shopping complex Target was on fire and Element Hotel was completely engrossed.
The Louisville Police Department had to evacuate its headquarters. David Hayes, Louisville’s Chief of Police, said Louisville’s Fire and Police Department is currently operating from King Sooper’s parking lot at 1375 East South Boulder Road.
Police, who live in Boulder County and also spoke at the press conference, said that with the strong gusts of wind, the fire moves the length of a football field in a matter of seconds. When asked to evacuate, people will have “very little time to get out; very little time to even get the most important parts of your life,” warned Polis.
Just south of the evacuation area and is the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, which occupies much of the old Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, which created plutonium triggers for bombs. As a precautionary measure, employees of the US Fish and Wildlife Service are at the border of the refuge with a fire truck. Although officials said they did not expect the fire to reach the refuge, winds of up to 115 mph were recorded at Rocky Flats, and it is in the pre-evacuation area that includes the Candelas development on its southern border.
Officials described the fires as a force of nature and said there was not much they could do to prevent the spread until the wind calmed down. “It’s the kind of fire you can not fight,” Pellenot said.
Police expressed gratitude for first aiders and solidarity with those affected by the fires. “For those who are directly affected, know that you are not standing alone,” he says. “The people of Colorado stand with you. For those who do not know if they have a home to return to, our prayers are with you for a safe return. For those who have lost everything they had, know that we will be there for you to help rebuild your life. ”
Anyone with questions about the status of their home or evacuation can call a new local call center at 303-413-7730 instead of 911 to avoid tying emergency lines. Information about the fire, evacuation areas and shelters can be found at Boulder Office of Emergency Management website.