Search teams sought out two people missing in the smoldering rubble of a Colorado wildfire. People who escaped the flames sort through the charred remains to find what is left.
Investigators were still trying determine the cause of flames that tore through at least 9.4 sq miles (24 km). Nearly 1,000 houses and other buildings were destroyed in suburbs between Denver, Boulder. The inferno broke out on Thursday, an unusually late date in the year after a dry fall and in the midst of a winter almost devoid of snow. Experts believe these conditions along with strong winds helped spread the fire.
Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff says authorities are investigating a number of tips. He also stated that authorities had executed a search warrant in “one particular” location. Sunday’s details were not provided by the sheriff, including whether or not he believed the fire was arson.
Pelle described the scene where the fire started, saying that it was complicated and covered with snow. “The outcome of that investigation is vital — there is so much at stake. We are going professional. We are going to be cautious.” Rex and Barba Hickman dug through the ashes of their Louisville home together with their son and wife. Austin, their son, opened a safe with a grinding instrument to reveal gold and silver coins as well as keys, melted credit cards and the charred remains from the couple’s passports.
They left their dog, their iPads, and all their clothes behind. Rex Hickman expressed his sadness at the loss of their home of 23 year.
“There is a numbness that strikes you first. It’s kind of like going into crisis mode. You focus on what you can do and what you cannot do,” he said. “The real pain is going sink in over time.” Their insurance company advised them that it would take at most two years to rebuild their home.
Rex Hickman stated, “We know how lucky we are.” “We have each others. We have great friends and a wonderful family. We feel for those who are suffering more than us. While homes that burned to the foundations were still smoldering in some places, the blaze was no longer considered an immediate threat — especially with Saturday’s snow and frigid temperatures.
Initial authorities stated that all were safe after the fire. Jennifer Churchill, spokesperson for Boulder County, stated that reports of three missing people were later discovered during the rush to manage the emergency. Officials said that one of the three people reported missing was found alive Sunday.
Crews were still looking to find a woman at a Superior home and a man in Marshall. Pelle stated that their homes were covered in snow and hot debris. It is a difficult task. Pelle stated that other investigators were looking for clues to help determine if the missing people had made it out, but they hadn’t contacted their families and friends.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, along with federal emergency officials, visited some of the affected areas Sunday morning.
Polis stated after the tour that “It is a difficult time in one’s life if you have lost everything or don’t know what you’ve lost.” “A few days back, you were celebrating Christmas at your home and hanging up your stockings. Now, home and hearth are destroyed.” Most of the 991 buildings that were destroyed by the fire were homes. The fire also destroyed eight businesses in a Louisville shopping center, including a Subway restaurant and a nail salon. Twelve businesses were also damaged in Superior, which is adjacent to the city. These included a Target, Chuck E. Cheese and Tesla dealerships, a hotel, and the town hall.
The combined population of the two towns is 34,000. They are located approximately 20 miles (30km) northwest Denver. Susan Hill’s Louisville property was about 100 yards (90m) away when the flames stopped. Because her natural gas service hadn’t been turned back on, she slept Saturday night in her house using a space heater to keep warm and hot water bottles for warmth.
She choked up as her memory of the sky changing color made her choke up. She also remembered running out of town with her college age son, the dog, cat, and a firebox with birth certificates and other documents.
She said, “I don’t know how to describe it.” It’s so sad. It’s so terrible. It’s absolutely devastating.”