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06-2022

Colorado Authorities Describe Bushfire Destruction With Some Units ‘Completely Disappeared’

Colorado Authorities Describe Bushfire Destruction With Some Units 'Completely Disappeared'

Colorado authorities described the destruction caused by wildfires that quickly engulfed several localities on Thursday, saying entire units were “completely gone” and more than 500 homes were “easily” destroyed.

At a press conference on Friday, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said there have been no reports of casualties or deaths from the Middle Fork and Marshall fires to date, and that one previously missing person has been found. Pelle said the damage assessment is still ongoing and the full extent of the damage may not be known until late Friday or Saturday.

Fires burn down fences in neighborhoods on December 30, 2021 in Superior, Colorado.  Many homes and businesses were burnt down due to the rapid fire caused by strong winds, with wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour.
Fires burn down fences in neighborhoods on December 30, 2021 in Superior, Colorado. Many homes and businesses were burnt down due to the rapid fire caused by strong winds, with wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour.

Helen H. Richardson / MediaNews Group / The Denver Post via Getty Images via Getty Images

Gov. Jared Polis (D), who accompanied the National Guard on an aerial damage inspection mission, said he believed many were “struggling to believe and understand” the speed of fire and destruction in urban and suburban areas.

“We talked about destroyed houses, but each house is not just a house, it is a house. It is a refuge of comfort for those who live there, it is a storehouse of memories where families grew up, ”said Polis.

Polis said the scale of the fires was “unimaginable” and that he was “grateful” for the snowfall in the area.

“It was a swift disaster within half an hour,” Polis said, noting that many families had only a few minutes to “get whatever they could, their pets, their children, into the car and drive away.”

Tens of thousands of residents have fled the cities of Louisville and Superior, which lie southeast of Boulder.

Flames engulf homes as the Marshall Fire spreads through the Superior area of ​​Boulder County, Colorado on December 30, 2021.
Flames engulf homes as the Marshall Fire spreads through the Superior area of ​​Boulder County, Colorado on December 30, 2021.

JASON CONNOLLY via Getty Images

Pelle said some areas are still locked down, noting that it is still too dangerous to return, but authorities will allow residents to return as soon as it is deemed safe. He noted that in some settlements there is potential water pollution, and in some areas there are problems due to collapsed power lines.

Pelle encouraged people who want to volunteer to visit coloradoresponds.org instead of going there on their own. He encouraged people who want to donate to visit the Boulder Emergency Management Office website.

Polis said he spoke with President Joe Biden, who called Friday morning to offer support to the people of Colorado and to verbally endorse the announcement of the disaster. Polis declared a state of emergency Thursday, allowing the state to access special response funds and provide resources to the State’s National Guard and other emergency response teams.

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