COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — A task force of firefighters from the Pikes Peak Region joined the hundreds of emergency personnel working to protect homes and businesses from the Marshall and Middle Fork fires burning in Boulder County. The team is made up of firefighters from Colorado Springs, Fort Carson, Cimarron Hills, Security, Manitou Springs, and Black Forest.
A fallen power line is believed to have sparked the 1600 acre blaze that was fueled by hurricane-force wind gusts Thursday afternoon. At least 35,000 people were forced to evacuate as the flames swept into the communities of Superior and Louisville. Parts of Broomfield and Westminster were also put under evacuation orders.
James Dougherty and his wife live in Louisville and rushed home to pick up their dog, Oscar, and as many necessities as they could grab.
"I was trying to load up my car, you could hear cars going through, like police cars, fire trucks, something like that going through the neighborhood on a bull horn telling everyone to evacuate," Dougherty told KMGH-TV.
Preliminary reports indicate that one first responder and six others were injured in the fires. During a news conference Thursday evening, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told reporters, "given the ferocity and the scope of this fire, it won't surprise us if we do find a casualty."
The fire swept into the populated areas Thursday afternoon covering the distance of a football field in a matter of seconds.
Pelle said emergency crews had little time to react.
"So, we've actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they were overrun. So, there was a lot of brave stuff going on today out there."
The fire destroyed all 370 homes in a single subdivision. More than 200 others were lost from another subdivision.
Governor Jared Polis pledged support to those impacted by the fires.
"For those who don't know if you have a home to return to, our prayers are with you for a safe return," Polis said. "For those who've lost everything they've had, know we will be there for you to help you rebuild your lives in the State of Colorado."
The impact of the fire was felt well beyond Boulder County. Xcel Energy initiated temporary 6 to 8-hour electric outages for its customers in Summit, Grand, Lake, Eagle, Saguache, Rio Grande, and Alamosa Counties.
The fires impacted the company's natural gas infrastructure in Boulder County that supports the service systems in Summit and Grand Counties. The outages we designed to reduce gas consumption in the mountain region.