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Wind-driven grass fires prompt evacuation of two Denver-area towns By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of a neighborhood in the town of Superior, Colorado, a Denver suburb February 27, 2006. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) -Wind-driven wildfires prompted evacuation orders for two entire towns just east of the Rockies near Denver on Thursday, disrupting life for more than 30,000 residents at the edge of the Colorado prairie, authorities said.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter (NYSE:) that sparks from power lines and transformers toppled Thursday morning by high winds had ignited multiple grass fires in the drought-parched Front Range area of Colorado.

Evacuation orders were first issued for all residents in the town of Superior, Colorado, with a population of about 13,000, and a short time later for the adjacent municipality of Louisville, home to more than 18,000 residents, the Boulder County emergency management office said on Twitter.

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Separately, the National Weather Service office in Boulder tweeted: “All Superior under an Evacuation ORDER. LEAVE NOW!”

Among the evacuees were a number of patients from Avista (NYSE:) Adventist Hospital in Louisville who were deemed especially vulnerable to smoke-inhalation, Kevin Massey, a spokesperson for healthcare network Centura Health, told Reuters.

“We are transferring some ICU and neonatal patients as it’s safe to do so,” he said.

A towering plume of smoke from the wildfires was visible in Denver, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the south.

Wind gusts of up to 110 miles (177 km) 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.

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Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency allowing use of disaster funding to support emergency response efforts in Boulder County and to allow mobilization of the Colorado National Guard and other state resources as needed.

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