Tens of thousands of Colorado residents waited anxiously Friday to learn what was left of their neighborhoods after wildfires tore through — including one woman who watched in horror through her doorbell camera as flames engulfed her home.
Authorities fear more than 500 homes were lost after wind-fueled wildfires wreaked havoc on the towns of Superior and Louisville, just outside Denver, on Thursday.
At least seven people were injured, but there were no immediate reports of any deaths or anyone missing in the aftermath of the blaze.
Some residents were given just minutes to evacuate before the flames and heavy smoke tore through, authorities said.
“We might have our very own New Year’s miracle on our hands if it holds up that there was no loss of life,” Gov. Jared Polis said on Friday.
One woman, who was among the tens of thousands evacuated, managed to log into her doorbell camera and watch on as her home was overwhelmed by flames.
The woman, only identified as Wendy, posted the terrifying video on Twitter late Thursday — saying she wasn’t sure if her home was still standing.
The footage showed flames and heavy smoke billowing into her yard and around her home at about 1:30 p.m.
Just a few minutes later, the camera lost connection.
“I’m numb. I have no idea if our house is still standing, if anything is left,” she wrote. “Four minutes before the flames were visible here there was blue sky and the smoke seemed uphill and over a ridge from us.”
Harrowing footage taken by local law enforcement showed rows of houses completely engulfed in flames and with no hope of being saved Thursday afternoon.
By 5 p.m., aerial video taken from a commercial plane flying overhead showed sections of the towns glowing from the flames as the wires ravaged the area.
The flames were gone by first light Friday as authorities started assessing what was left of the smoldering homes.
“It’s unbelievable when you look at the devastation that we don’t have a list of 100 missing persons,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.
He added that some neighborhoods were reduced to just “smoking holes in the ground.”
The sheriff urged residents to wait for the all-clear to go back, warning that it was still too dangerous in many areas because of fire and fallen power lines.
Evacuations had been ordered earlier Thursday for the cities of Louisville and Superior, which is home to a combined 34,000 people — and some streets were completely backed up as residents tried to flee.
Footage showed terrified customers rushing to evacuate a Costco and Chuck E Cheese in Superior as smoke quickly swallowed the area.
Parents could be heard screaming inside the Chuck E Cheese as they noticed flickers of flames inching through the parking lot, one video showed.
Meanwhile, a bystander outside the nearby Costco captured an apocalyptic scene as winds whipped through the parking lot and small fires scattered across the ground.
The first fire had erupted just before 10:30 a.m. Thursday and was “attacked pretty quickly”, Sheriff Pelle said. A second wildfire, which was reported just after 11 a.m., “ballooned and spread rapidly east,” Pelle said.
Some of the several blazes in the area on Thursday were sparked by downed power lines.
“This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head on,” Pelle said. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun,” he added.
Gov. Polis, who declared a state of emergency, said the flames were consuming football fields of landscape in a matter of seconds.
Wind gusts of up to 110 miles per hour were reported in Boulder, according to the National Weather Service, which said fast-moving fires were creating a “life-threatening situation” in the Superior and Louisville areas.
With Post wires