An apocalypse of fire rained down on Colorado on Thursday, scarring the land and all who witnessed the devastation.
The fire was followed by snow, leaving those whose homes were destroyed and the many without power shivering.
The fire destroyed almost 1,000 homes in Louisville, Superior and Marshall and damaged 127 more, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said, according to Colorado Public Radio. Pelle said three missing people are presumed dead.
“The structures where these folks would be are completely destroyed and covered in about eight inches of snow,” Pelle said Saturday.
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) December 31, 2021
The fire broke out on Thursday and was fueled by high winds clocking in at 115 mph in nearby Arvada and 110 mph in Rocky Flats, KDVR-TV reported. The local outlet noted that Category 2 hurricanes top out at 110 mph.
Dry conditions created an ideal situation for the fires to spread.
Gov. Jared Polis said the flames spread “down a football field in a matter of seconds,” according to CNN.
Two subdivisions near Superior were “totally gone,” Pelle said, adding that part of Louisville suffered “catastrophic losses.”
— Ben Ames (@BenAmesWx) December 31, 2021
Our neighborhood right before it burned to the ground pic.twitter.com/eZzspagZdQ
— WildFire (@WildFlowerSeed_) December 31, 2021
Louisville resident Judy Delaware told CNN she and her family left their home with their dogs and a few items they could carry. Their home is now a “pile of rubble.”
“It just felt like a punch to the stomach,” she said. “Everything you own is just gone. Gone.”
Prescott Delaware, Judy’s son, said when they fled, the fire was 600 yards away. Tayler Sustello, his partner, had one vivid recollection.
— Thoff82 (@Thoff821) December 30, 2021
“The sound of the wind — it honestly just sounded like a hurricane of smoke and fire,” she told CNN.
“Just seeing the home that you love and you are so proud of just going up in smoke is just horrible. It’s horrible,” Judy’s daughter Elise said, according to CNN.
Another area resident, identified as Hunt Frye, said the evacuation was “apocalyptic-feeling.”
— Wendy (@wendybco) December 30, 2021
“People were running from their houses with their pet cats and, you know, everybody was very panic-stricken,” he told CNN. “The thing that really struck me was the fear in the police officers’ [faces] who were trying to kind of get traffic going. They were legitimately scared.”
Friday’s snowfall and Saturday’s sub-freezing temperatures impacted those who were without power as a result of the fires. Officials estimated about 7,500 customers were without power and another 13,000 without gas.
Heavy snow is now falling in Boulder County, helping knock down the fires that remain.
Still, flames are visible beneath the snow, as many learn the fate of their homes. (Louisville) pic.twitter.com/La0lAwy50R
— Evan Kruegel (@EvanKruegel) January 1, 2022
A Fire Ripped Through Boulder County Thursday, Displacing Thousands Of Residents & Burning More Than 500 Homes, At Least Two People Are Missing, Then A Cold Front That Dumped Several Inches Of Snow. Our New Reality.▼https://t.co/ysVKMlacFM
— Paul Millard ?? (@SeaShepherdPaul) January 1, 2022
The cause of the fires has not been determined.
Although initial reports suggested downed power lines sparked the blaze, that theory is now being questioned, according to KDVR-TV. The Boulder Office of Emergency Management said Friday that no lines were down in the area where the fire started.
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