A late season wildfire outbreak in Colorado has caused significant damage overnight, with around 600 properties reportedly destroyed as fast-moving, wind-driven wildfires burn in the Boulder County area, to the north of Denver.
Extremely warm and dry conditions, combined with down-slope wind storms have resulted in weather conditions conducive to wildfires, meteorologists reported.
The fires have been called exceptionally rare for the time of year by some, given their wind-driven nature and the dry conditions. A state of emergency has been declared by Colorodo’s Governor.
Snow is now forecast and the wildfires should be extinguished, or at least greatly lessened over the coming day, but already significant damage has been reported in the area.
Winds of up to 105 mph have fanned the flames across a region that has been in drought for some time and has not benefited from recent west coast U.S. rainfall.
Around 30,000 people have been evacuated in the towns of Louisville and Superior, and these wildfires are burning in suburban areas, so property damage is being reported.
They are being called the most destructive wildfires in Colorado state history by some sources, with media reports stating around 600 homes destroyed, while there are also reports of power lines being downed and starting some of the blazes.
Just in the town of Superior, some 370 homes are said to have been destroyed as an entire western subdivision was burned, while another 210 homes are reported to have been destroyed by the fires in the Old Town area of Superior as well.
In addition, larger commercial properties destroyed or badly damaged include a shopping complex and hotel, according to news reports.
After an exceptionally warm autumn, as well as a very dry period with very little snow, these down-slope wind storms that are not all that unusual, have become deadly thanks to the fires that have started.
The wildfires continue to burn, but forecasts suggest a relatively heavy snowfall for the region later today or tonight, which it is hoped will help extinguish the wildfires or get them under significant control.
It’s a late season reminder of the threat posed by wildfires to the insurance and reinsurance sector, especially in times of drought and warmer temperatures.