Colorado fires: State ‘holding out for miracle’ that no one dead as ‘fast motion’ blazes confound experts

‘You can see how the wind and the topography drove that fire in certain directions, devastated some neighbourhoods and some blocks and left neighbours standing and intact’

Bevan Hurley
Friday 31 December 2021 17:55
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Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he was hoping for a “New Year’s miracle” that there would no fatalities from the devastating fires that have wiped out nearly 1,000 homes in the state.

The fast-moving fire fanned by powerful winds ripped through towns between Boulder and Denver, prompting the evacuation of about 30,000 residents on Thursday.

Despite the widespread damage caused by the fires, Mr Polis said so far every resident had been accounted for.

“We might have our very own New Year’s miracle if it holds up that there was no loss of life.”

Mr Polis said he had taken an aerial tour of the affected areas on Friday and said the fires had spread in “the blink of an eye”, leaving families with only a few minutes to gather children and pets and evacuate.

“This was a disaster in fast motion,” he added.

“The last 24 hours have been devastating. It’s really unimaginable, it’s hard to speak about.”

Officials said the fire was not a “wildfire”, but rather a suburban blaze that had been sparked by fallen power lines.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told the press during a briefing on Friday that the fire had confounded experts, destroying entire subdivisions while leaving neighbouring streets undamaged.

“The fire burnt in an interesting dynamic with mosaics, you can see how the wind and the topography drove that fire in certain directions, devastated some neighbourhoods and some blocks and left neighbours standing and intact,” Mr Pelle said.

Mr Polis has declared a state of emergency, allowing the state to deploy emergency funds and resources including Colorado National Guard.

He said President Joe Biden had assured him the White House would expedite federal emergency relief funds to help homeowners and businesses who lost property.

The wind gusts of 110 miles per hour had pushed fire at an astonishing speed across the neighbourhood, burning down 6,000 acres.

Mr Polis said snow had begun to fall on Friday, dampening down fires, but there were still with active flames.

“How grateful we are that the snow has started.”

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