Hundreds of homes were destroyed on Thursday by wildfires in the western US state of Colorado that were hit by strong winds and facing a historic drought, officials said.
About 370 homes were destroyed in the Sagamore subdivision. “It is possible that 210 homes have been destroyed in Old Town Superior,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Bailey said at a news conference.
Boulder, with a population of over 100,000, is located about fifty kilometers from Denver, the capital of Colorado.
This state suffers from a historical drought that contributed greatly to the spread of flames. In Boulder County, smoke faded from hotels, malls, and more than 650 acres of green space.
Gusts of over 160 km/h have been observed in some places complicating the efforts of the firefighters.
Sheriff Joe Bailey warned: “I would like to stress the size and intensity of this fire and its presence in such a densely populated area, and we wouldn’t be surprised if there were casualties or deaths.”
According to the newspaper Colorado SunSeveral burns had to be treated, of whom at least six were taken to hospital.
Pictures broadcast by CBS showed a burning apartment building that firefighters were trying to put out.
Thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate, especially in the city of Louisville of 20,000.
The meteorological services insisted, “Leave Louisville or your life will be in danger.”
Jared Polis, the governor of this mountainous state where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains, tweeted, “Soon strong winds spread the flames and grounded all the planes.”
“Only ashes remain”
Another city targeted by a full evacuation order, Superior, with a population of 13,000, was blanketed Thursday in a cloud of black smoke, according to photos posted on social media.
The local newspaper reported that Patrick Kilbride, 72, was working in a hardware store when he was ordered to evict. Denver Post.
The 72-year-old rushed home as president to pick up his things, but was unable to save anything other than his car and the clothes he was carrying on his back. Her dog and cat died in the flames.
“All that remains are ashes,” he said of the house he lived in for three decades.
“It’s a strange feeling to move from a situation where you have all the amenities you can get and have absolutely none,” he told The Denver Post.
Patti Holtz described the horror she felt when evacuating her home in Boulder County. “Everything is on fire. There are embers everywhere. “I am very afraid, of course, with the wind, that it will continue to spread to other houses,” she said.
“Like the lions of the night”
“It was so dark you couldn’t see anything. She said again.
Like much of the American West, already arid Colorado has experienced exceptional drought for several years.
With global warming, the intensity and frequency of droughts and heat waves are likely to increase, continuing to create ideal conditions for wildfires or bushfires. The American West has experienced unprecedented fires in recent years, particularly in California and Oregon.
For UCLA meteorologist Daniel Swain, “it’s hard to believe” that these fires happen in December, a period not usually conducive to this type of event in the region.
“But let’s take unprecedented heat and fall drought, just two years of snow so far this season, and add a storm with very steep winds… and the result is very dangerous, very fast-moving fires,” the researcher wrote on Twitter.
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