Persons who survived the flames searched through the burned wreckage of their houses to see what was left, as search teams hunted for two missing people in the smoking debris from a large Colorado wildfire.
Investigators were still attempting to figure out what sparked the fires that engulfed at least 9.4 square miles (24 square kilometers) of suburbs between Denver and Boulder, destroying roughly 1,000 homes and other structures.
The fire started on Thursday, unusually late in the year after an exceptionally dry fall and a winter with little snow. According to experts, those circumstances, along with heavy winds, aided in the development of the fire.
Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County says officials are investigating a variety of leads and have executed a search warrant at “one specific place.” On Sunday, the sheriff declined to say anything about the incident, including whether he felt it was started intentionally.
The area where the fire originated is “complex,” Pelle added, “and it’s all buried in a foot of snow.” “The outcome of that probe is critical – so much is on the line.” We’re going to conduct ourselves in a professional manner. We’re going to take it easy.”
With their son and his wife, Rex and Barba Hickman combed through the ashes of their Louisville home.
With a grinding tool, their son Austin hacked into a safe, revealing gold and silver coins, melted credit cards, keys, and the burned remnants of the couple’s passports.
They just had their dog, iPads, and the clothing on their backs as they fled. Rex Hickman said he was saddened to find their 23-year-old house was completely demolished.
“The numbness is the first thing that hits you. You know, like when you’re in crisis mode. “You consider what you can and cannot accomplish,” he explained. “It’ll take some time for the full agony to set in.”
In the immediate term, the couple must locate a rental place and clothing, and their insurance company warned them on Sunday that rebuilding their home will take at least two years.
“We recognize our good fortune,” Rex Hickman stated. “We’ve got each other.” We have fantastic friends and relatives. So many people must be suffering far more than we are, and we sympathize with them.”
While several properties that had been burned to the ground were still smoking, the fire was no longer deemed a serious hazard, especially given the snow and cold weather on Saturday.
After the fire, authorities first claimed that everyone had been accounted for. However, Boulder County spokesman Jennifer Churchill noted that reports of three persons missing were uncovered later when the incident was being handled. Officials said on Sunday that one person had been discovered alive.
Crews were still searching for a lady in Superior and a male in the Marshall area. Their dwellings were “buried in heated rubble and blanketed in snow,” according to Pelle. It’s a challenging assignment.”
Other detectives were checking to see if the missing persons had survived, but had not contacted their family or acquaintances, according to Pelle.
Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado and federal disaster authorities paid a visit to some of the affected areas on Sunday morning.
After the tour, Polis remarked, “I realize this is a difficult period in your life whether you’ve lost everything or don’t even know what you’ve lost.” “You were enjoying Christmas at home just a few days ago, hanging your stockings, and now your house and hearth have been devastated.”
The majority of the 991 structures destroyed by the fire were residences. However, the fire destroyed eight businesses in a Louisville retail complex, including a nail salon and a Subway restaurant. A Target, Chuck E. Cheese, Tesla dealership, a hotel, and the town hall were among the 12 businesses damaged in Superior.
The two communities are roughly 20 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Denver and have a population of 34,000 people combined.
The flames were approximately 100 yards (90 meters) from Susan Hill’s home in Louisville when they came to a halt. Because her natural gas supply had not been put back on, she slept Saturday night in her house using a space heater and hot water bottles to keep warm.
She sobbed as she remembered watching the sky turn colors and frantically rushing out of town with her college-aged son, dog, cat, and a fire box full of birth certificates and other documents.
She added, “I don’t even know how to express it.” “It’s heartbreaking. It’s terrible. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”