THE wildfire raging in Boulder County is thought to be the most destructive in Colorado’s history as hundreds of homes were devastated and thousands fled in fear.

There were fears of a potential hazmat emergency as flames edged toward a property with liquid nitrogen tanks.



At least 550 homes have been destroyed – making the Marshall wildfire the most destructive in Colorado history. Officials expect the number of homes destroyed to rise.

The previous record was the Black Forest Fire of 2013 where just under 500 homes burned to the ground, KRDO reports.

More than 30,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in Superior and Louisville on Thursday.

At least six people have suffered injuries and so far no fatalities have been recorded, according to the Colorado Sun.

Striking pictures show aggressive flames gutting properties in Centennial Heights and Broomfield.

Residents in Westminster were also urged to leave and flights leaving Denver were paused earlier on Thursday because of the high winds, reaching speeds of up to 105mph (169km/h).

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Joe Pelle, sheriff of Boulder County, branded the day “harrowing”.

He said: “The conditions around the Marshall Fire are currently very volatile and unsafe.”

Read our Superior, Colorado fire blog for the very latest news and updates…

Pelle warned that fire crews couldn’t fight the blaze head-on.

He added: “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun.”

Firefighters worked to evacuate a Capella Space building in Louisville, a maker of radar imagery products.

Police scanner footage reveals that callers warned that there were up to 2-4 tanks of liquid nitrogen that could explode if they caught fire.

Footage shows flames shooting out of a Tesla car dealership in Superior. Tesla didn't respond to The Sun's request for comment when approached about the blaze.

And, video uploaded to social media shows shoppers being evacuated from a Costco store where they are met with plumes of gray smoke.

Resident Jason Fletcher said he had never been “this close to a fire”.

He told The Washington Post: “It was a typical morning. Blue skies. A few minutes later, dark smoke began to drift outside.”

And, motorist Robert Gutierrez didn’t realize that he was driving toward the flames until a driver warned him.

He said: “The second I turned around, you could start seeing the flames coming up. Who knows what would have happened if he didn’t warn me.”

'APOCALYPTIC SCENES'

Pensioner William Shrum, 72, lost power in his home before winds started to shake his home.

He already had a makeshift bed in his car but forgot his toothbrush and contact lenses.

Shrum said: “We’ve had a lot of fires nearby, but not right on top of us like this. I hope home is still here when I come back.”

And, Leah Angstman told the Associated Press that the sky was dark brown and dirt was blowing around in swirls like snakes.

Hospitals in the southeast of Boulder County have been evacuated including patients in intensive care.

Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette was evacuating its most critical patients as the fire raged into the night, CBS Denver reported.

And, inmates at a detention center in Broomfield were also relocated.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said a fire this large near a population center was "absolutely devastating."

Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought and hasn’t seen substantial rainfall since mid-summer.

Snow hydrologist Keith Musselman said: "With any snow on the ground, this absolutely would not have happened in the way that it did."

The National Weather Service predicts that up to a foot of snow could fall on Friday, bringing relief.





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