Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the fast-moving wildfires in the US state of Colorado. It has also forced at least 33,000 people to flee, as per the officials.
Local media outlets have reported that at least six patients were hospitalised with injuries and people in the towns of Louisville and Superior were told to flee. The National Weather Service (NWS) described the situation as "life-threatening."
Very little time for some residents to evacuate
The wildfires moved so fast that there was very little time for some residents to get out, Governor Jared Polis said on Thursday (December 30).
He said, "Very little time to get out. Very little time to even get the most important parts of your life. And yes, it will be a difficult process for Colorado families who are directly affected to rebuild their lives."
At least 1,600 acres (650 hectares) have burned in Boulder County, much of it suburban, with officials warning that deaths and injuries were likely as the blaze took hold of a hotel, shopping center and apartment complex in the town of Superior.
"We know that approximately 370 homes in the Sagamore subdivision... have been lost. There's a potential of 210 homes lost in Old Town Superior," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told a news conference on Thursday.
How was it started?
The fast-moving fires are thought to have begun when power lines were toppled by gusting winds.
Winds of over 160 kilometres per hour were reported in some places, fanning flames and preventing aircraft from taking off.
State of emergency
Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency Thursday over what he said were devastating fires. Unlike previous blazes in the state, he said, this one is not in the countryside.
"This area is right in and around suburban sub-developments, stores. It's like the neighbourhood that you live in. It's like the neighbourhood that any of us live in," he said.
Impact of Climate Change
Scientists say a warming climate, chiefly caused by human activities like the unchecked burning of fossil fuels, is altering weather patterns.
Prolongs droughts in some areas and provokes unseasonably large storms in other places - phenomena that are expected to get worse as worldwide average temperatures continue to climb.
Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado's 2nd District, called the wildfires "unprecedented."
"(The wildfires) have just created a level of devastation and destruction that our state has not experienced before," he told CNN.
This combination handout black and white WorldView-1 satellite image released by Maxar Technologies and created on December 30, 2021, shows homes and shopping centers on McCaslin blvd. before the fire (top) in Superior, Boulder County, Colorado, early on December 30, 2021, and engulfed in smoke (bottom) in the afternoon of December 30, 2021.