On Thursday, December 30th, massive wildfires broke out in Boulder County, Colorado. And officials fear that as many as 1,000 homes could be destroyed in the blaze.
PEOPLE reported on Friday morning that over 500 homes have already been lost. And because firefighters have not been able to extinguish the flames, they expect that hundreds more will burn.
“I would estimate it’s going to be at least 500,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told the outlet. “I would not be surprised if it’s 1,000.”
A long-term drought coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures and 100+ mph wind gusts set the stage for the fires earlier this week. And as of today, around 34,000 Superior and Louisville residents have been forced to evacuate, according to the Washington Post.
Luckily, there have been no fatalities. However, seven people, including one first responder, have been injured.
Officials Warn Residents Not to Return to Homes Affected by the Colorado Wildfires
Friday morning, Colorado State Patrol became aware that homeowners were anxious to return to their homes. But officials warned that doing so is still incredibly dangerous.
“Boulder Fires are still active,” the department wrote in a Tweet. “Do NOT go into burn areas or around barriers. It’s for your safety and allows emergency crews to secure the area. Please avoid this area until given the okay.”
In a release earlier today, Sherrif Pelle also asked families to stay away from the fires.
“I know residents want to get back to their homes as soon as possible to assess damage,” he said. ” In many of those neighborhoods that are currently blocked off, it’s still too dangerous to return, we saw still active fire in many places this morning, and we saw downed power lines. We saw a lot of risk that we are still trying to mitigate.”
While the weather created a perfect canvas for the Colorado wildfires, officials aren’t sure exactly what ignited the flames. However, they suspect downed power lines were to blame.
And by Friday morning, at least 6,000 acres had already burned. But the local fire department believes it has the fire contained. So while it expects more damage within the current zone, the flames should not spread into neighboring cities.
“There’s still areas burning inside the fire zone around homes and shrubbery and that kind of thing,” Pelle said. “But we’re not expecting to see any growth in the fire. I think we are pretty well contained except for what’s happening inside the fire zone.”
A winter storm is expected to hit Boulder County today and last throughout New Years Day. The snow should help extinguish the remaining flames.