Investigators are still trying find out what caused a massive fire in a suburban district near Denver, which destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and set off a number of other buildings.
Three people are missing after Thursday’s inferno.
Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff said Saturday that authorities were looking for tips and had executed search warrants at one specific location. He declined to provide details.
A Boulder County sheriff refused to reveal his name but confirmed that one property was under scrutiny in the Marshall Mesa area of Boulder County. This is a region with open grassland located about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Superior.
According to the official, access to the property was blocked by a National Guard Humvee. This was just one of many under investigation. Utility officials discovered no downed power lines in the area where the fire broke out, which is between Denver and Boulder. The wildfire spread unusually late in the year after a dry fall and during a winter that was almost devoid of snow. Experts believe this helped to make the fire more widespread.
Pelle said at least 991 homes or other buildings were damaged. Pelle mentioned that 553 were in Louisville, 332 Superior and 106 were in the unincorporated areas. Many more were damaged. Pelle warned that the final tally from wind-whipped wildfires is not final.
The totals include outbuildings and barns that were destroyed, but the vast majority of the homes were damaged, Jennifer Churchill, Boulder County spokesperson, said late Saturday.
Authorities had earlier stated that no one was still missing. Churchill stated that confusion is a result of agencies scrambling to handle an emergency.
Pelle stated that officials were forming cadaver teams to search the Superior area and unincorporated Boulder County for missing persons. He stated that debris from the destruction of structures is a problem, as it is covered by snow dumped by a storm over night.
The wildfire that erupted around Louisville and Superior, two towns with a combined population 34,000, left at least seven people injured. The fire, which erupted over 9.4 miles (24 kilometers) of land, was not considered a threat immediately due to the overnight snowfall and frigid temperatures on Saturday. The snow and temperatures of just one digit made for an unsettling scene among the charred remains of homes. Despite the dramatic weather change, the smell of smoke permeated the streets that were closed off by National Guard troops in Humvees. Residents were left feeling miserable and forced to flee their homes.
Utility crews had trouble restoring electricity and gas service at homes that survived. Hundreds of people waited in line to get donated space heaters and blankets at Red Cross shelters. Xcel Energy encouraged residents to use wood stoves and fireplaces to keep their pipes from freezing.
A long line of families waited to get space heaters and bottled waters at the YMCA of Lafayette, just north from Superior. Monarch High School seniors Noah Sarasin, and his twin brother Gavin, had been volunteering at the location for two days, directing traffic as well as distributing donations.
Noah Sarasin explained that we have a home, but no heat, but still have a home. I just want everyone to have heat on this cold day. Hilary and Patrick Wallace purchased two heaters and ordered two hot coco mochas at a nearby coffee shop. The Superior couple couldn’t find a hotel so they considered hiking the 2 miles (3.2 km) back to their home. Their neighborhood was still closed to traffic. The family slept in one bedroom on New Year’s Eve.
Both were a bit shocked when a man entered their shop. He joked about how he’d lost all his coffee mugs, as well as everything else in the fire. The irony of it all made the man smile and laugh.
I have a space heating unit and a place to put it in. Hilary said, wiping a tear, “I don’t even know how to respond to them.”
Superior resident Jeff Markley arrived in a truck to pick up a heater. He said he felt fortunate to be only temporarily homeless as his home is intact. We’re doing okay, staying with our friends, and are optimistic for the New Year. Markley said, “It’s better than the last one.”
Not everyone felt the same positive emotions.
It’s bittersweet, because we have our house but our neighbors don’t. Judy Givens, a Louisville resident said she was glad to have a heater for her husband. We thought 2022 would be better. Then we had omicron. We now have this, but it isn’t starting off very well.
(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.