Jason Fletcher, who shared a video of the evacuation on Twitter, told Insider the scene changed in a matter of minutes. He said his family was enjoying an afternoon at the restaurant and arcade and there were clear blue skies and some high winds outside.
About noon, people began to notice a little bit of smoke outside. Fletcher said they didn’t think much of it initially and assumed the wind was blowing smoke in from elsewhere. But within minutes, there was suddenly a lot of smoke, he said.
“Then my wife noticed the flames, and that’s when she called out to everybody,” Fletcher, who is from California but was in town visiting family, said.
The video he shared was taken from inside the Chuck E. Cheese and shows large flames just yards away from the building.
—Jason Fletcher (@SoFarFletched) December 30, 2021
People can be seen rushing around in between the arcade games, shouting out for others and carrying small children as they head for the exit.
“Everybody was just gathering their kids and making sure they were safe,” Fletcher said.
He said it took multiple people to push the building doors open to exit because the winds were so strong. He added that they were “fortunate” to have masks because the smoke outside when they went to their cars was so heavy.
By the time they exited, fire trucks had arrived and were guiding people out of the shopping center and helping them avoid the flames. Fletcher and his family were able to safely evacuate.
Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado declared a state of emergency Thursday after high winds fueled grass fires along the Front Range, especially in Boulder County, northwest of Denver.
Residents of Louisville and Superior, the location of the Chuck E. Cheese, were told to evacuate over the fires. Officials said winds in the area reached speeds of 110 mph.
At least six people were being treated with burns and injuries related to the fires, according to a spokesperson for UCHealth.