PREGNANT mothers in labor at a Colorado hospital were evacuated on Thursday as wildfires consumed hundreds of homes and businesses.
The wildfires in Boulder County have left at least six people hurt and an estimated 580 homes damaged, according to local media.
A reporter from local affiliate 9News reported seeing flames reaching a hundred feet into the air while several explosions were heard.
An officer is among six injuries reported so far, Sherriff Joe Pelle told reporters.
No deaths have been reported, but given the speed and scope of fire, “it wouldn’t surprise us if we did find a casualty,” the sheriff said.
Up to 32,000 people living in the towns of Superior and Louisville were evacuated as the blaze, dubbed the Marshall Fire, burned up to 1,600 acres.
The flames came dangerously close to Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, where management was forced to evacuate the entire hospital, including intensive care, neonatal intensive care, and emergency department patients.
Ominous videos posted to Twitter showed dark smoke clouding the sky as residents worked to escape Boulder County by car.
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Evacuations were also underway at an assisted living center in Louisville, with the executive director telling a reporter, “Everyone is safe” but the fire was “all around.”
Firefighters had to pull out of areas close to the fire because of the weather, the sheriff said.
Read our Superior, Colorado fire blog for the very latest news and updates…
Aircraft has been unable to launch to help with the fire fight because of dangerous wind gusts that reached up to 110mph, The Colorado Sun reported.
The region has seen a historically dry season, which has allowed the fire to quickly consume grass, shrubs, and trees.
Smoke was visible 25 miles away in Denver as Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency.
“This is awful,” Polis told a reporter.
Boulder Office of Emergency Management warned residents who could see fire to evacuate.
“Go east, go north, but leave immediately,” the agency tweeted.
“More info to come through OEM channels.”
The National Guard is expected to arrive in the area on Thursday night to help first responders.
Dozens of military personnel will help with road closures and evacuations.
Sheriff Pelle said firefighters won’t be able to stop Marshall Fire until winds die down so the main focus is getting people out.
The sheriff said residents north of the evacuation area should be OK but to stay alert and call emergency management with questions.