WILDFIRE

The cities of Louisville and Superior evacuated by winter wildfire in Colorado

Dec 30, 2021, 3:10 PM | Updated: 3:10 pm

Superior Louisville wildfire...

Smoke from a wildfire rises in the background, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Superior, Colo. All 13,000 residents of the northern Colorado town were ordered to evacuate Thursday because of a wildfire driven by strong winds. (AP Photo/David Zelio)

(AP Photo/David Zelio)

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (AP) — Residents of two northern Colorado cities were ordered to evacuate Thursday because of wildfire.

The city of Louisville has a population of 21,000. It was evacuated after residents in Superior, which has 13,000 residents, were told to leave.

Superior is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Denver. Louisville is just 4 miles (6 kilometers) northeast of Superior.

A nearby portion of U.S. Highway 36 was also shut down because of fire.

The blaze northwest of Superior was one of several fires that started in the area Thursday, at least some sparked by downed powerlines, as winds have gusted up to 105 mph (169 kph), according to the National Weather Service.

A scene straight out of an apocalyptic movie was captured in bystander video outside a Costco in Superior. It shows winds whipping through the barren trees in the parking lot surrounded by gray skies, a hazy sun and small fires scattered across the ground.

Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, had an extremely dry and mild fall, and winter so far has continued to be mostly dry.

Extreme conditions like these are often from a combination of unusual random, short-term and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change. Scientists have long warned that the weather will get wilder as the world warms. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

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The cities of Louisville and Superior evacuated by winter wildfire in Colorado