Wildfires fueled by strong winds and downed power lines in the Western US state of Colorado have destroyed about 600 homes, a shopping complex, and a hotel, according to local news reports late Thursday.
The fire, which started in the morning in Boulder County, reached populated areas in a short time, with winds gusting up to 169 kilometers (105 miles) per hour.
Over 30,000 residents across three communities outside the state capital Denver were forced to evacuate Thursday afternoon, said public news outlet NPR.
Hundreds of homes and buildings have burned in the area, NPR added, citing authorities.
While the National Weather Service for Denver and Boulder called the situation in the area “life-threatening,” Boulder County’s Office of Emergency Management ordered residents in both the city of Louisville and the town of Superior to quickly evacuate the area.
Residents in most parts of the Broomfield are also now under a mandatory evacuation order, the report added.
“Due to the magnitude of this fire, the intensity of this fire and its presence in such a heavily populated area, we would not be surprised if there are injuries or fatalities,” said Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
At least seven people have been so far injured and are undergoing treatment, officials announced Thursday evening.
Earlier, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency in response to the wildfires.
“Prayers for thousands of families evacuating from the fires in Superior and Boulder County,” Polis said on Twitter.
“Fast winds are spreading flames quickly and all aircraft are grounded,” he added.
Dry weather and high winds have made winter wildfires more likely in Colorado, Colorado Public Radio reported, adding that this is a pattern likely to become more frequent due to climate change.
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