Rapidly spreading fires in Colorado forced the evacuation of over 34,000 people in the towns of Louisville and Superior on Thursday.

The blazes were driven by strong winds, including a gust that was recorded at 110 mph, creating a "life-threatening" situation in these areas, the National Weather Service said in an early afternoon tweet. But by the evening, the agency had "good news," announcing the cancellation of high wind warnings, though it did note there are still some variable and gusty winds.


Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency and during a press conference Thursday said somewhere between 500 and 600 homes and businesses had been destroyed. Officials believe at least 1,600 acres of land have been burned so far.

"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 Democratic governor said earlier in the day.

An estimated 43,000 people in Colorado were without power by nightfall, including over 16,000 in Boulder County, according to data from PowerOutage.us.

The Good Samaritan Medical Center in Boulder County began the process of transferring its critical patients, a move that officials say is being done out of an abundance of caution, according to CNN.

Superior has an estimated population of over 13,000 people, while Louisville has a population of over 21,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Both municipalities are about 10 miles from the city of Boulder.

The Louisville Police Department told residents to evacuate east and north but to avoid the south. Footage circulating on social media showed large clouds of smoke looming over the area.

There are at least two major wildland fires in the area — the Marhsall Fire and the Middle Fork Fire, according to the Boulder Emergency Operations Center. The weather service has also identified another smaller fire in the area.


Earlier in the day, the sheriff in Boulder County, which includes Louisville and part of Superior, said there were powerful winds that could have a fanning effect on the infernos. The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said there were multiple reports of downed power lines and transformers blowing that caused small grass fires.

The Boulder EOC was activated to respond to the fires.