“We talk about houses destroyed, but each house is not just a house — it’s a home,” Gov. Jared Polis said to a room full of media at the Boulder County Sheriff’s headquarters this morning.
2021 has been an incredibly difficult year for Colorado. On Thursday, Polis declared a state of emergency in response to rapid grass fires created by high winds across the Front Range. Officials say approximately 500 to 1,000 homes in Boulder County have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated. Temporary emergency shelters are in place as more long-term solutions continue to be discussed. No deaths have been reported.
In the briefing this morning, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said restoration of power is a major priority, in addition to damage assessment, but there is still active fire and down powerlines across the 6,000-acre area, creating too much risk for residents to return. At 8:15 a.m. a Boil Water Notice was put in place for both Superior and Louisville residents as officials suspect widespread contamination.
“This was a disaster in fast motion all over the course of half a day…many families having minutes to get whatever they could — their pets, their kids — into the car and leave,” Polis said. “The last 24 hours have been devastating. It’s really unimaginable. It’s hard to speak about.”
President Joe Biden gave expedited verbal approval of a Major Disaster Declaration, which will be finalized in paper this afternoon. This allows homeowners and small businesses that suffered losses to have immediate assistance without having to wait for a preliminary damage assessment.
“It feels like we’ve experienced enough loss and tragedy these last two years and then yesterday happened over the course of several hours,” Polis said. “This is our community and to watch it burn so quickly and so unexpectedly is something that I think we’re all just struggling to believe and understand.”
For the most up-to-date information on the fires, look to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management.