2021 goes out in flames – literally! Wind-swept fires devastate, 30,000 evacuated, hundreds of homes burn

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Residents  in Boulder County, Colo., will not be ringing in the new year with much joy after large late season wildfires fuled by strong winds sent thousands fleeing.

“Large wildfires outside Denver destroyed at least 580 homes, forced the evacuation of 30,000 and sent six people to hospitals as fire crews prepare to further assess the destruction Friday morning,” Fox News reported. “Reports from the scene described a ferocious blaze that became more devastating because the area is bone dry and it spread with the help of 105 mph wind gusts.”

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the wind has made the task of fighting the fires all but impossible.

“The end won’t come until the wind subsides,” Pelle said, according to the network. “This is the kind of fire you can’t fight head-on. We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun.”

KDVR reported that within a matter of hours, fires burning south of Boulder engulfed entire subdivisions forcing tens of thousands of Coloradans to leave their homes, destroying “more homes than any wildfire in Colorado state history.”

Relief, such as it is, will be coming on Friday as a major snowstorm is expected “bringing the biggest snowfall of the season” for the Denver area, according to CBS Denver. The areas impacted by the fires may see 5 to 10 inches of snow by Saturday morning.

Power was cut to more than 34,000 customers in some areas and authorities have opened at least four evacuation centers for residents, the CBS affiliate  reported.

Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency, citing the dangerous, wind-whipped grass fires, the Denver Post reported.

“The declaration allows the state to access disaster emergency funds to support the emergency response efforts in Boulder and provide state resources including the use of the Colorado National Guard, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and activation of the State Emergency Operations Center,” Polis said in a release.

More than 300 homes were on fire in the town of Superior. With a population of 12,000, the town was the first to be evacuated, according to the Post.

“We are literally watching it burn,” Superior Mayor Clint Folsom told the newspaper. “This is devastating for our people.”

Louisville, with a population of about 20,000, was also evacuated, and parts of Broomfield were under pre-evacuation orders.

“A MANDATORY evacuation order is now in place for everyone South of US-36 to 112th and West of Wadsworth,” Broomfield police posted on Twitter. “This includes the Interlocken area. If you live in that area leave immediately.”

A video shared on Twitter captured just how fast the fires were sweeping through the area — the social media user stated that she had no idea if her home was still standing:

Here are a sampling of other videos capturing the devastation

Tom Tillison


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