Growing Wildfires Sparked by Downed Power Lines Evacuate Whole Colorado Town

Power lines taken down by high wind speeds sparked two wildfires in Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday afternoon, prompting a whole town to be evacuated.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that they have received multiple reports of downed power lines and transformers exploding, which caused "several small grass fires."

"One grass fire is near the 5000 block of N. Broadway, another is near N. Foothills and Middle Fork. Crews are responding to both fires," the sheriff's office tweeted.

Shortly after, the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced in a press release that the Boulder Emergency Operations Center was activated to help respond to the two fires.

"The first fire is north of the City of Boulder. The closest intersection is North Foothills Highway and Middle Fork Road. The name of this fire is the Middle Fork Fire," according to the statement. "The second fire is south of the City of Boulder. The closest intersection is South Cherryvale Road and Marshall Drive. The name of this fire is the Marshall Fire."

The Boulder County OEM also urged residents to avoid the areas where the fires are burning as crews continue to respond and work to extinguish them.

"IF YOU SEE FIRE, EVACUATE. Go east, go north, but leave immediately," Boulder County OEM said in a tweet.

At around 1 p.m. local time, the entire town of Superior was told to evacuate immediately.

"Fire has spread to northwest area of Superior. All residents west of McCaslin Boulevard have been evacuated as well as residents east of McCaslin and north of Discovery Parkway. Further evacuations may be necessary," the town, which has a population of around 13,000 people, said in a press release.

Officials also warned that high wind speeds in the area were creating a more dangerous situation as they fueled the fires' growth and movement. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Boulder, a wind gust of 105 miles per hour was recorded earlier Thursday morning and another gust of 110 miles per hour occurred later in the day.

"Life threating [sic] situation in Superior and Louisville areas!" NWS Boulder said in a tweet. "Fast moving fires are in the area. Gather more information and please be prepared to evacuate immediately."

As the fires continued to burn, clouds of smoke were seen in the area across Boulder.

In a video posted to Twitter by NWS Boulder, a large cloud of smoke can be seen from the agency's office.

"This is becoming a very high impact wind event for our area, please take it seriously and abide by any evacuation orders from local authorities," the tweet read.

Twitter user Marko Co shared a similar video on Twitter showing the fires burning from afar.

Colorado Fire
Growing wildfires sparked by downed power lines led to the evacuation of an entire Colorado town. Above, firefighters hike through brush as they fight the Chatridge 2 fire on June 29, 2020 in Littleton, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty