Federal and state investigators have interviewed dozens of people in their search for the cause of a destructive Colorado wildfire, but the results of that investigation — and even a progress report — could take days, if not weeks, the Boulder County sheriff warned.
Declaring that “the stakes are huge,” Sheriff Joe Pelle said he would not release details on the probe until he was ready “to announce some progress — perhaps that may be a week, perhaps that may be a month.” He stated Monday that getting it right was “more important” than the desire for speed many people feel right now. Thursday’s wind-whipped inferno destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and other structures, forcing thousands of residents to flee a rapidly-growing suburb between Boulder and Denver. Crews went in search of two people who were still missing. They searched two locations manually and used small tools to find any remains.
Experts agree that the winter fire was rare, but similar events will become more frequent as the climate changes warm the planet and the suburbs are built in fire-prone areas. After months of drought, which included a dry winter and little snow so far, the blaze broke out.
Pelle said Monday that the investigation into the origin of the fire is focusing on an area near Boulder. A passer-by recorded video of a burning shed the day before the fire started. Pelle said that dozens of people had been interviewed so far and that experts from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the US Forest Service had been involved. Authorities have not found any downed power cables in the area.
Marshall Mesa is an unincorporated area of Boulder County. It is located near the Rocky Mountain foothills. It overlooks the densely populated suburbs to its east that were destroyed by the fast-moving flames. This area is surrounded with tinder-dry open space and private grasslands.
A sheriff’s officer spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm that several properties were being investigated, including one in Marshall Mesa, which is located about 2 miles (3 km) west from the hard-hit town Superior. Monday was blocked by a National Guard Humvee.
Authorities executed a warrant for a search over the weekend. The sheriff declined to provide any details and did not comment on whether the fire was arson.
Crews were searching for a woman from Superior and a man from Marshall in the search for the missing. Louisville Police Chief Dave Hayes stated that authorities used cadaver dogs as a precaution to re-check the properties that were destroyed. Hayes stated that no one was reported missing from the heavily damaged city but that it does not mean that we won’t find anything. After the briefing, Hayes said that he had lost his house and was wearing a new set of clothes that he requested someone to buy.
Although homes that had been set on fire were still visible in some areas, the fire was no longer considered a danger, especially after the blanket of snow and frigid temperatures put an end to the flames Saturday.
The majority of the 991 buildings that were destroyed by the fire were houses. Eight businesses were also damaged by the fire at a Louisville shopping center. These included a Subway and a nail shop. Twelve businesses were also damaged in Superior, which is adjacent. These included a Target, a Chuck E. Cheese pizza, a Tesla car dealership and a hotel.
Utility crews visited all the homes to see if natural gas or electricity could be safely restored.
Louisville resident Carl Johns said, “What relief!” A utility worker turned on a gas meter and went into Johns’ home to make sure the appliances were turning on. He had been living with his friends since Thursday. Police drove through the area and exhorted everyone to evacuate.
Some of his neighbors weren’t so fortunate. One block down, a row of burning homes stood.
Johns stated, “That just blows my mind,” “The houses aren’t there, and it’s hard to recognize your own block.”
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff. It is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.