Colorado forest fire: up to 1,000 buildings destroyed as Biden declares disaster | Colorado

As many as 1,000 buildings were possibly destroyed in the record-breaking wildfire that swept through an area of ​​Colorado bordering the Rocky Mountains, as Joe Biden said the situation was dire and experts warned the climate crisis and the expansion of suburbs had contributed to the devastation.

After saying it was a miracle, based on the latest information, that no one was killed in the blaze that roared without warning in Boulder County on Thursday, officials said more than 500 and up ‘to 1,000 homes and businesses could have been wiped out.

And on Saturday afternoon, authorities said they are now looking for two people missing as a result of the wind-whipped hell.

Hundreds of residents who expected to ring the bell in 2022 at their homes instead started the New Year on Saturday by trying to collect what was left to them.

Families who had been forced to flee the blazes without warning returned to their neighborhoods on Friday in the cities of Louisville and Superior, with a combined population of 34,000, north of the state capital Denver, to find a patchwork of devastation.

At least seven people were reportedly injured. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said as authorities continue to work on the aftermath of the blaze, the number of likely casualties for homes and businesses will increase as things move forward. would become clearer.

“I would estimate that it’s going to be at least 500 [and] I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the 1000, ”Pelle said on Friday.

He added that many structures were reduced to mere “smoking holes in the ground”.

It was considered the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said as authorities continue to work on the aftermath of the blaze, the number of likely casualties for homes and businesses will increase as things move forward. would become clearer. Photograph: Carl Glenn Payne / ZUMA Press Wire Service / REX / Shutterstock

On Saturday, many homeowners were already talking about rebuilding in the same location.

Cathy Glaab discovered that her house in Superior had been turned into a pile of charred and twisted debris, one of seven houses in a row that were destroyed. “So many memories,” she said through tears.

She and her husband plan to rebuild the house they’ve had there since 1998, she says, as they love the natural space behind and the view of the mountains.

Boulder County adjoins the eastern foothills of the Rockies, an area known locally as the Front Range. To the west is the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The flames had swept east through grasslands and drought-stricken neighborhoods at an alarming rate, propelled by gusts of up to 105 mph, as tens of thousands of people were ordered to flee. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Light snow fell on Friday, helping to put out the blaze that had burned up to 10 square miles, but snowfall in the area this winter was late and light.

Then another snowfall on Saturday night and freezing temperatures added to the misery of homeless residents.

The frost cast an eerie scene amid the still smoking wreckage, and the smell of smoke still permeated the empty streets blocked by National Guard troops in armored vehicles.

For the thousands of residents whose homes survived the blaze, volunteers at Red Cross shelters distributed electric heaters as utility crews struggled to restore natural gas and electricity.

But with temperatures forecast well above freezing in the county on Monday and Tuesday, the fire risk persisted, even though huge wildfires are not usual in Colorado in December.

The US president declared a major disaster in the region on Friday, ordering federal aid to be made available to those affected.

Superior and Louisville are teeming with subdivisions for the middle and upper middle class with shopping malls, parks and schools. The area lies between Denver and Boulder, home to the University of Colorado.

Scientists say climate change is making weather more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive.

Ninety percent of Boulder County experiences severe or extreme drought, and it has not experienced significant rainfall since mid-summer. Denver set a record for consecutive days without snow before having a small storm on December 10, its last snowfall before wildfires broke out.

Becky Bolinger, assistant state climatologist at the Climate Center at Colorado State University, tweeted: “The ingredients for a devastating wildfire have come together since last spring. A very wet spring of 2021 allowed the grasses to grow. A very dry summer and autumn dried up the herbs and prepared the kindling.

“I thought it wouldn’t be long before we started to experience fires like California, where flames are chasing people out of their neighborhoods,” Bolinger said in an interview with the Denver Post. “I didn’t expect this to happen in December.”

The temperatures were too high. June to December 2021 was the hottest time on record, Jennifer Balch, a fire specialist and director of the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the newspaper.

“Climate change is definitely part of this story as the fire seasons are longer,” she said.

Additionally, the greater Denver metropolitan area has grown with the expansion of suburbs and the construction of new residential neighborhoods in the Front Range that were nothing but wild meadows a generation ago, causing massive disruption for these towns when fires break out.

About Therese Williams

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