‘Miraculous’: No casualties reported in devastating Colorado wildfires Hundreds of homes were destroyed in Superior, Colorado.
By Tom Liddy and Kiara Alfonseca January 1, 2022, 2:05 PM • 5 min read Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email this article
2:34 Communities wiped out by fast-moving wildfires in Colorado
Hundreds of homes are lost in Boulder County after strong winds fueled widespread wildfires that decimated towns like Louisville and Superior.Marc Piscotty/Getty Images Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle called the lack of casualties or fatalities “pretty miraculous” following the Colorado wildfires that quickly destroyed hundreds of homes on Thursday.
“We were fortunate that the winds dissipated last night,” Pelle said in a press conference on Friday.”It’s still too dangerous to return.We saw active fires in many places this morning.We saw downed power lines; we saw a lot of risks that we’re still trying to mitigate.”
Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands were forced to evacuate in Boulder County on Thursday when wind-fueled grass fires exploded into infernos.The more dangerous of the two, the Marshall Fire, “ballooned” to approximately 1,600 acres, Pelle said in a Thursday briefing.
The cause of the fires is still being investigated.
According to the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, Xcel Energy Colorado found no downed wires in the ignition area despite initial reports.
President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Colorado on Friday and federal funsing for those affected, according to a statement from the White House.
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House announced in the release.
“Federal funding is also available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the Boulder County.”
Maxar Technologies via AFP/Getty Images Satellite images shows homes and a shopping center before the fire (top) in Superior, Boulder County, Colo., early on December 30, 2021 and engulfed in smoke (bottom) in the afternoon of the same day.
There were more than 2,000 homes in the affected area.About 500 homes have been lost to the blaze so far, but that total could rise to roughly 1,000 with further assessments, according to Pelle.
Residents of Louisville, a town of 20,000, and Superior, a town of 13,000, were alerted to evacuate immediately on Thursday.
The mayor of Superior, which was decimated by the sudden and fast-moving wildfires, called the situation “very grave” in an interview with “Good Morning America.”
Alyson McClaran/Reuters Dhieux Windsor was brought to the YMCA of Northern Colorado by an ambulance after wind-driven wildfires prompted evacuation orders near Boulder, Colo., Dec.30, 2021.”I spent a couple of hours yesterday driving around in the afternoon with the sheriff’s office and town manager just making an assessment of the situation there on the ground and it’s grave,” Superior Mayor Clint Folsom told “GMA.” “It’s nothing like I would have ever imagined would have happened.”
Folsom said he was fearful of what emergency responders might find in the coming days after hundreds of homes burned “in a matter of minutes.”
MORE: Hundreds of homes lost amid fast-spreading Colorado fires Pelle and Colorado Gov.Jared Polis said some families in Louisville and Superior had little time to prepare to leave their homes in what the National Weather Service’s Denver/Boulder bureau called a “life-threatening” situation.
“In the blink of an eye, this was a disaster in fast motion,” Polis said at a press conference.”All over the course of half a day.Nearly all the damage.
Many families having minutes to get whatever they could, their pets, their kids into the car and leave.The last 24 hours have been devastating, truly unimaginable.”
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images A home burns after a fast moving wildfire swept through the area in the Centennial Heights neighborhood of Louisville, Colo., Dec.30, 2021.Folsom said that strong winds were not uncommon in the area, but “this was a wind like I’ve never seen.” Combined with an extraordinarily dry summer and fall, the conditions were ripe for a devastating blaze.
Several inches of snow are anticipated Friday, which could help efforts, Pelle said.
“We might have our very own New Year’s Miracle on our hands if it holds up that there was no loss of life,” Polis said.
ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report..