'A horrific event': What we know about the Marshall Fire burning near Boulder

The 1,600-acre Marshall Fire burning near Boulder, Colorado, has destroyed an estimated 500 homes in the city of Superior and continues to threaten more as winds preceding a much-anticipated snowstorm caused the state's latest catastrophic wildfire Thursday.

Here's what we learned about the fire from a 5 p.m. press conference. Follow this link for updated coverage from USA TODAY reporters on scene as additional information becomes available.

What's the cause of the Marshall Fire?

The fire, named for its proximity to the unincorporated community of Marshall, is believed to be caused by power lines that were damaged by strong winds that gusted up to 110 mph midday Thursday. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said deputies confirmed power lines were downed in the area Thursday.

Pelle said the fire was "consuming football field lengths in seconds," and called it "a horrific event."

More: How you can help those impacted by the Marshall and Middle Fork fires in Boulder County

What has burned in the Marshall Fire?

In the 5 p.m. press conference, Pelle said all 370 homes in Superior's Sagamore subdivision are believed to have burned, along with a potential 210 in the 13,000-resident town's Old Town neighborhood. Also burned were a Target shopping center and hotel.

Pelle said additional structures in the Marshall area west of superior are believed to be consumed by the fire.

Has anyone died in the Marshall Fire?

Pelle on Thursday said that a firefighter suffered a minor eye injury due to flying debris, but that as of 5 p.m. no deaths had been attributed to the fire. However, Pelle said he "would not be surprised if there are injuries or fatalities" due to how fast the fire burned through populated areas.

Pelle said there have been no people confirmed to be missing in the fire area, in response to a reporter's question.

Six people were hospitalized with burns at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, spokeswoman Kelli Christensen told USA TODAY. She could not elaborate on their conditions or the severity of burns due to HIPAA, a healthcare privacy law, but said all six were being treated currently.

Emergency officials will begin damage assessments when feasible, possibly as early as Thursday, depending on conditions.

How is the Marshall Fire being fought?

Firefighters from across Colorado, including those from Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, have responded to help local firefighting crews in Boulder County. Thursday's high winds meant that firefighting aircraft were unable to fly, and would likely remain grounded until daybreak Friday.

What's believed to be Colorado's first nighttime aerial firefighting mission ended in tragedy earlier this year when pilot Marc Thor Olson was killed in a crash battling the Kruger Rock Fire near Estes Park.

Pelle requested 12, two-member National Guard teams in to assist with the fire, with that request granted Thursday. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also announced a state of emergency during the fire, which was approved by the federal government, freeing up additional resources to respond to the fire and help those impacted.

Where can I learn more about the Marshall Fire?

USA TODAY has continuing coverage here.

In addition, visit the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management at www.boulderoem.com/emergency-status/ for official information on evacuations and fire response.

Coloradoan editor Eric Larsen can be reached at ericlarsen@coloradoan.com or 970-224-7745 (call or text). Support journalism in Fort Collins and subscribe today at offers.coloradoan.com/specialoffer.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Marshall Fire in Colorado: What we know as 500 homes burn near Boulder