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Residents in Colorado have been ordered to evacuate after two grass fires were sparked by downed power lines and exploding transformers due to strong winds, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The Middle Fork Fire is north of Boulder near the intersection of North Foothills Highway and Middle Fork Road.
The Marshall Fire is south of Boulder close to the intersection of South Cherryvale Road and Marshall Drive. The size of the fires have not been confirmed.
Huge plumes of smoke are seen filling the air as the dangerous winds continue to blow the fires along. The National Weather Service reported an ‘extraordinary’ gust of wind reaching 105 mph just south of the Boulder city limit Thursday morning.
All residents in Superior, a total of about 4,000 households, have been instructed to evacuate the area, authorities announced. Evacuees are being directed to the South Boulder Recreation Center, the Lafayette YMCA, or the Longmont Senior Center.
Some evacuations were also underway in Louisville, according to the Daily Camera.
Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said any residents that can see fire and flames should evacuate. All local residents have been instructed to close their windows to protect against the smoke.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis tweeted: ‘Prayers for thousands of families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County. Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded.’
The city of Boulder has activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to help residents respond to the active situation. Multiple structures have reportedly caught on fire.
Thousands of people are reportedly out of power after the intense winds sent power lines crashing to the ground.
Xcel Energy reported more than 48 power outages affecting close to 4,700 customers, Fox 31 reported.
The local Costco store was evacuated as the fires crept towards the supermarket Thursday afternoon.
A crowd of shoppers was seen exiting the store as gray smoke filled the entrance and obstructed the view.
The Colorado State Patrol closed Highway 93 between Highway 58 and Highway 128 noting that ‘several high profile vehicles have been blown over due to the wind.’
C-470 was closed at 285 after a tractor trailer was blown over.
Highway 36 is closed in both directions from Interlocken Loop to Foothills Parkway along with the roads East Bound Closed at Baseline and West Bound Closed at Interlocken. US 36 is also closed in between Longhorn Road and Nolan Drive.
University of Colorado Boulder Facilities Management confirmed that many trees and branches on their campus have been toppled over by the winds.