Survivors count blessings after devastating Colorado fire

The flames stopped about 90 yards from her property, and she slept in her house on Saturday night with a space heater and hot water bottles to keep warm as her natural gas connection had not been turned back on.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” she said. “It’s so sad. It’s so terrible. It’s just devastating.”

In the burned-out neighborhood near Hill’s house, a US mail carrier checked the brick and stone boxes for outgoing mail. The fire came so quickly that people might have put bills or other letters in it, and she didn’t want anyone to steal it.

While in some places houses that were burned to the ground were still glowing, the fire was no longer considered an immediate threat – especially when there was snow and icy temperatures on Saturday.

“A day late and a dollar short,” Hill said of the snow the scientists said typically prevents winter fires that spread in dry grass.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and federal emergency officers visited some of the damaged neighborhoods Sunday morning.

“I know this is a tough time in your life when you’ve lost everything or don’t even know what you’ve lost,” Polis said after the tour. “A few days ago you celebrated Christmas at home and hung up your stockings and now your home and hearth are destroyed.”

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Utility officials found no rundown power lines near the source of the fire.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said authorities were following a series of leads on Saturday and issued a search warrant in “a certain location”. He didn’t want to give details.

Authorities initially said everyone was held accountable after the fire. However, Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the reports of three missing people were discovered later amid the scramble to deal with the emergency. One was found alive, officials said on Sunday.

The search for the other two missing persons was made difficult by the still burning debris and the snow.

Of at least 991 buildings destroyed by the fire, most were residential buildings. But the fire also burned through eight stores in a Louisville mall, including a nail salon and a subway restaurant. In neighboring Superior, 12 stores were damaged, including a Target, Chuck E. Cheese, a Tesla dealer, a hotel and the town hall.

The two cities are about 20 miles northwest of Denver and have a combined population of 34,000.

Supply teams expected most of the electricity to be restored to the still standing houses on Sunday, but the warned gas service could take longer to come back.

People queued to get donated heaters, water bottles and blankets in the Red Cross accommodations. Xcel Energy urged other residents to use fireplaces and wood stoves to stay warm and keep their pipes from freezing at home.

Superior Resident Jeff Markley arrived in his truck to pick up a heater. He said he felt lucky to be “just evicted” since his home is intact.

“We’re getting on well, staying with friends and starting the new year optimistically. Must be better than this last one, “said Markley.

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