Health

Three people missing and feared dead from fierce Colorado wildfire

Officials initially said there were no reports
of fatalities or missing residents following the rare urban wildfire that
erupted Thursday morning on the northern outskirts of the Denver metropolitan
area.

Wind gusts in excess of 100 miles per hour
(160 kph) pushed flames eastward into the towns of Superior and Louisville,
prompting the evacuation of both communities.

In about two hours, the fire had scorched
6,000 acres, officials said.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the
three missing people, whom he declined to identify, all lived in homes that
were consumed by the blaze.

“The structures where these folks would
be are completely destroyed and covered with about eight inches of snow,”
Pelle said at a Saturday news briefing, adding cadaver dogs will be deployed on
Sunday to search the dwellings.

Pelle said 991 homes in Superior, Louisville
and in unincorporated parts of the county have been destroyed, making it the
most destructive wildfire in state history in terms of residences lost.

Officials initially said sparks from downed
power lines that were toppled by the gale-force winds may have sparked the
blaze, but an inspection by utility company Xcel Energy found no damaged or
downed lines near the fire’s believed origin.

Pelle said detectives are investigating all
avenues to determine what ignited the conflagration. Acting on a tip, the
sheriff said a search warrant was issued in connection to the probe, but
declined to offer any details.

US President Joe Biden has declared the scene
a national disaster, freeing up federal funds to assist affected people and
businesses in recovery efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in
a statement.

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