Wildfires Sweep Through Colorado's Boulder County, Leaving a Path of Destruction


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Marshall fire continues to sweep through southeast Boulder County after destroying hundreds of homes and forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

In a 10 a.m. news conference Friday at the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Joe Pelle said that there have been no casualties and that the estimate of at least 500 homes lost remains the same.

Two of the towns most affected are Superior and Louisville. Among the victims of the fire is University of Colorado Buffaloes inside linebackers coach Mark Smith. "Just got word that every material possession we had today is now gone," Smith tweeted.

Gazette news partner 9News reported that the winds that gusted upwards of 100 mph Thursday have reduced to the teens and 20s early Friday morning. Those numbers are expected to drop as the day wears on.

U.S. 36 in Boulder is still closed, according to Broomfield police. 

As of Friday morning, the fire has been estimated at 6,200 acres, according to Michelle Kelly, the PIO for the Boulder County Incident Management Team. She also said that more than 300 people were housed in three shelters overnight and that over 500 homes had been impacted. That number is expected to increase as officials are able to better assess the damage.

Fire is still burning within the fire perimeter, Kelly told 9News. She warned the people still need to avoid the area.

An estimated 35,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, Kelly said.

Residents of Louisville are advised to boil water prior to consumption.

An analysis published by The Gazette in July revealed that developers built tens of thousands of new homes in Colorado's riskiest areas for wildfires over the last decade, while local and state forest officials allowed wildfire protection plans across the state to age to the point they may no longer remain effective.

If initial estimates are correct, the Marshall fire, which sparked at about 11 a.m. Thursday, would be the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history, in terms of homes lost.

Here's a look at the most destructive fires in state history:

— The Black Forest Fire, 2013: The fire sparked in El Paso County in June of 2013, destroying about 500 homes and burning more than 14,000 acres.

— The Cameron Peak fire, 2020: The largest wildfire in state history burned over 208,000 acres and destroyed more 460 buildings, including 246 homes.

— East Troublesome Fire, 2020: The state's second largest fire destroyed 370 homes and burned nearly 194,000 acres in Grand County.

— Waldo Canyon Fire, 2012: The Colorado Springs wildfire destroyed more than 340 homes and burned more than 18,000 acres.

— The High Park Fire, 2012:  The fire in Larimer County burned about 87,000 acres and destroyed 259 buildings.