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Tens of thousands flee homes as devastating wildfires ravage US state of Colorado

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 31/12/2021 Josh Salisbury

Tens of thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes in Colorado after wildfires devastated two cities on Thursday.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the blaze in the towns of Superior and Louisville in Boulder County, north of Denver.

At least one first responder and six others were injured in the fires that began Thursday morning and which have quickly turned into the most destructive in the state’s modern history.

Boulder County sheriff Joe Pelle said more injuries and also deaths could be possible due to the intensity of fires that quickly swept across the region.

"This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head on," Pelle said. "We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun," he added.

The state’s governor, Jared Polis, declared a state of emergency, allowing the state to access disaster emergency funds.

 (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard (AFP via Getty Images)

Evacuations were ordered earlier in Louisville and Superior, located about 20 miles northwest of Denver and home to a combined 34,000 people.

Video: Aerial footage shows scale of Colorado wildfires (Sky News)

Responders are hoping that winds of up to 105mph die down so the spread of the fire can be stopped and to search for victims and assess damage.

Some of the blaze has been caused by power lines toppling over in the winds.

Among those affected are Mike Guanella, who had been planning to celebrate a belated Christmas with family before being given the evacuation order. The family are now staying with a friend in Denver, hoping their own home was still standing.

“Those presents are still under the tree right now. . . we hope," Mr Guanella told the Associated Press.

Video captured from outside a supermarket and posted on social media showed the apocalyptic scenes of smoke as the fire ravaged the county.

One resident, Patrick Kilbride, said his house had been turned to ashes and that he had lost both his cat and dog to the fire.

The 72-year-old told the Denver Post: “It’s ashes. It’s not a house. If you need a fireplace chimney, that’s all that’s left.”

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