Hundreds of homes destroyed, thousands evacuated: Heavy fires hit the city of Boulder, Colorado on Friday, December 30. “We know that around 370 homes in the Sagamore subdivision have been destroyed. It is possible that 210 houses were destroyed in the old town of Superior »Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a press conference.
The city of Boulder, which has more than 100,000 inhabitants, is located about fifty kilometers from Denver, the capital of Colorado. This state of the American West is experiencing a historic drought which greatly facilitated the displacement of the flames. At least 648 hectares of vegetation went up in smoke in Boulder County, with the blaze ravaging hotels and shopping centers, among others.
Gusts of over 160 km / h were observed in some places, stoking the flames and complicating the efforts of the firefighters. “I would like to emphasize the scale and intensity of this fire and its presence in such a densely populated area, we would not be surprised if there were injuries or deaths”, to have you Joe Pelle.
Winds up to 170 km / h
Thousands of residents were ordered Thursday to evacuate their homes. These evacuations concerned in particular Louisville, a municipality of 20,000 residents. “If you are in the region, act quickly”Boulder County emergency services had warned.
“Strong winds quickly spread the flames and all the planes were pinned to the ground”, tweeted Jared Polis, the governor of this mountainous state where the Rockies meet the great plains. “Leave Louisville or your life is in danger”, had insisted the American meteorological services, by reporting that a gust had approached 170 km / h.
Another city targeted by a full evacuation order, Superior, 13,000 inhabitants, was covered Thursday in a cloud of dark smoke, according to images posted on social networks. Patrick Kilbride, 72, was at work in a hardware store when ordered to evacuate, local newspaper reports Denver Post.
The 72-year-old rushed to his home in Superior to collect his belongings but was unable to save anything other than his car and the clothes he was carrying on his back. Her cat and dog died in the flames. “Only ashes remain”, he says of the house he lived in for three decades. “It’s a strange feeling to go from a situation where you have all the comforts possible to having absolutely nothing”, he confides to Denver Post.
Like much of the American West, Colorado is currently struggling with a drought that has lasted for several years, exacerbating the region’s aridity and leaving it vulnerable to fires.
If the latter are a natural component of the climate cycle, allowing vegetation to be cleared and reducing the spread of diseases within it, their amplitude is increasing.
With global warming, the intensity and frequency of drought episodes, which in particular threatens the food security of populations, may still increase even if the world manages to limit the rise in temperatures to +1.5 ° C compared to in the pre-industrial era.
In addition, rising temperatures and increasing heat waves and droughts create ideal conditions for forest or bush fires.
In recent years the American West has experienced unprecedented fires, especially in California and Oregon.
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In Colorado, hundreds of homes destroyed by fire