Thousands of Colorado residents in Louisville and Superior were ordered to evacuate on Thursday after strong winds reportedly brought down power lines and caused a transformer to explode.
The transformer explosion caused two grass fires to spread quickly, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office told the Daily Mail.
One blaze, the Middle Fork Fire is north of Boulder, close to the intersection of Middle Fork Road and North Foothills Highway. Meanwhile, the Marshall Fork Fire is south of Boulder, by the intersection of Marshall Drive and South Cherryvale Road.
Plumes of smoke could be seen in the distance as winds continued to fan and spread the flames.
Louisville, which has a population of roughly 20,000 was called to evacuate, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. The whole town of Superior with 13,000 people was also asked to evacuate.
‘Prayers for thousands of families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County,’ Colorado Governor Jared Polis tweeted on Thursday afternoon. ‘Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded.’
The size of the fires was not immediately known. Some estimates indicated the Marshall Fire spanned 1,200 acres.
The National Weather Service Denver/Boulder on Thursday afternoon tweeted to inform Louisville residents that ‘this is a life threatening situation’.
High winds made it hard for fight the blazes from the air, Colorado fire officials told ABC News.
An ‘extraordinary’ gust of wind hit 105 miles per hour south of the Boulder city limit on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Any residents who could see fire should flee their homes immediately, Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said. Residents were told to shut their widows to protect against toxic smoke.
Exacerbating the threat of the wildfires is a drought that has severely hit the Boulder area, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Agriculture.
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