Colorado fire destroys hundreds of structures

By Fernando Alfonso III and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 12:29 AM ET, Fri December 31, 2021
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:44 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Wildfires have caused "a level of devastation" not seen before in Colorado, congressman says

Burnt out vehicles sit amidst the smoke and haze after a fast moving wildfire swept through the area in the Centennial Heights neighborhood of Louisville, Colorado on December 30.
Burnt out vehicles sit amidst the smoke and haze after a fast moving wildfire swept through the area in the Centennial Heights neighborhood of Louisville, Colorado on December 30. (Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Rep. Joe Neguse, of Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, said on Thursday he had evacuated with his family as a precaution and hoped expected snow tomorrow would provide some relief from the wildfires.

“Clearly it’s a devastating day for Boulder County, our communities and Louisville and Superior and people of our state," he told CNN. "These are unprecedented wildfires that have just created a level of devastation and destruction that our state has not experienced before.”

Neguse said state representatives were in close contact with the governor, law enforcement, and first responders.

He added that record-breaking winds, which pushed the fires into residential communities, would hopefully begin to die down in the evening -- and be further tamped down by the expected snow forecast for Friday. "We’re just hoping that will commence soon to give our firefighters and our first responders some relief as they work to try to protect our communities," he said.

10:47 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

American Red Cross opens evacuation center in Lafayette, Boulder County

The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center for wildfire evacuees at the YMCA of Northern Colorado in Lafayette, Boulder County, the aid organization tweeted Thursday night.

In a separate post, it said residents in the area should protect themselves from wildfire smoke by staying in a room closed off from the outside air, using a portable air cleaner or filter if available, and to avoid lighting gas stoves, candles or fireplaces.

9:57 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

There are 53,500 customers without power in Colorado

From CNN’s Raja Razek

A Mountain View firefighter walks through the smoke and haze after a wildfire swept through the Centennial Heights neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado, on December 30.
A Mountain View firefighter walks through the smoke and haze after a wildfire swept through the Centennial Heights neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado, on December 30. (Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

There are 53,500 customers without power in the state of Colorado, according to poweroutage.us. 

In Boulder County alone, there are 18,791 customers in the dark. 

 

9:32 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Boulder County hospital begins transfer of labor, delivery, and intensive care patients

From CNN’s Raja Razek

Out of an abundance of caution due to the fires, a Boulder County hospital in Colorado said it has started ​transferring some of its most critical and fragile patients, including those in labor and delivery, and intensive care.

"The Good Samaritan Medical Center has started transferring some of its most critical and fragile patients. These patients require extra time for preparation and transport," said a news release from SCL Health. "The first phase of this transfer involves six labor and delivery patients. The second phase involves 22 intensive care patients."

According to the release, patients are being transferred to other SCL Health facilities " in case the Boulder grass fires cause a need for additional shifts."

9:04 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Winds decreasing but still strong over fires in Boulder

From CNN's Haley Brink

Strong, sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph, with gusts between 40 to 80 mph, are still occurring across the Colorado foothills Thursday evening.

A high wind warning was extended across this region until 8 p.m. MT (10 p.m. ET). The strongest wind gusts peaked at 115 mph earlier today, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. MT (12 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET).

Overall winds should gradually weaken through the evening hours and should diminish by the morning.

9:12 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

These were the strongest reported wind gusts

From CNN's Haley Brink

A firefighter walks near a fire north of Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday, December 30.
A firefighter walks near a fire north of Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday, December 30. (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera/AP)

Several Colorado monitoring stations across Jefferson, Boulder, and Larimer counties recorded preliminary hurricane-force wind gusts (74 mph and higher).

Some wind gusts exceeded 100 mph Thursday afternoon.

Here is a list of the top reported wind gusts:

  • Rocky Flats, Jefferson County: 115 mph
  • Crisman, Boulder County: 102 mph
  • White Ranch Open, Jefferson County: 100 mph
  • Lyons, Boulder County: 94 mph
  • North Glen Haven, Larimer County: 90 mph
  • Marshall, Boulder County: 89 mph
  • Mishawaka, Larimer County: 79 mph
  • Boulder, Boulder County: 78 mph

 

8:37 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Louisville, Colorado, hospital fully evacuated due to grass fires

From CNN’s Raja Razek

Centura’s Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colorado, is fully evacuated and all patients have been transferred to sister facilities, according to a news release from Centura Health. 

"As of 4:15 p.m., Centura-Avista Adventist Hospital is fully evacuated. All patients were safely transferred to two of our sister facilities within Centura - Longmont United Hospital or St. Anthony North, and some were discharged from the hospital. All associates at this time have also been evacuated," the release said. 

"Patients should not attempt to go to Avista Adventist Hospital; nearby roads have been closed," the release added. 

Avista Adventist Hospital is in Louisville, Colorado, and is part of the Centura Health system. 

The hospital is a 114-bed full-service hospital, according to its website. 

8:46 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Extreme winds came on suddenly in Colorado foothills

From CNN's Brandon Miller

A fire burns near Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday, December 30.
A fire burns near Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday, December 30. (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera/AP)

A short period of extreme winds occurred along the Colorado foothills with “winds nothing short of howling," according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

“We are in the midst of a truly historic windstorm across the front range, foothills and urban corridor,” the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado, said earlier Thursday.

“Exceptional mountain wave amplification,” referring to a major increase in windspeed as air flows over and down the mountains into the lower elevations in and around Boulder that can occur under very specific atmospheric conditions, was blamed for the hurricane-force wind gusts reported.

Widespread wind gusts of 80-100 mph were observed, the NWS said.

Combined with relative humidity below 20%, the extreme winds fueled the rapid fire spread, including into urban areas of Superior and Louisville.

By sunset, the winds should diminish even further, the NWS said.

8:55 p.m. ET, December 30, 2021

Colorado governor declares state of emergency due to grass fires in Boulder County 

From CNN’s Raja Razek

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference on Thursday.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference on Thursday. (KMGH)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency due to the grass fires in Boulder County, according to a news release from the governor's office. 

"Today, Governor Polis declared a state of emergency due to grass fires created by high winds across the Front Range," the release said. 

"The declaration allows the state to access disaster emergency funds to support the emergency response efforts in Boulder and provide state resources including the use of the Colorado National Guard, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and activation of the State Emergency Operations Center," the release added.