Nearly 1,000 homes destroyed in wind-driven wildfires in the US state of Colorado, as officials said it was a “miracle” that no casualties had been reported so far as a result of the devastating fires.
“It was a disaster in rapid motion for more than half a day,” Governor Jared Polis said in a news release on Friday. “Many families had minutes to get their pets and children in the car and leave whatever they could. This is unthinkable. “
Police said he met with US President Joe Biden, which approved an accelerated declaration of major disasters for the region so that residents and businesses can more easily access support.
“We may have our own New Year’s miracle on our hands, if it holds that there was no loss of life,” Polis said.
The wildfires injured at least half a dozen people and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents in and around two towns east of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, the state capital.
“It’s amazing when you look at the devastation that we do not have a list of 100 missing people,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Friday.
Two of the communities worst affected by the fires, Louisville and Superior, have been placed under boiling water advice due to fears of pollution, Pelle added.
The two towns – located in an area between Denver and Boulder – are filled with middle- and upper-middle-class subdivisions, as well as shopping malls, parks and schools.
The origin of the wildfires has not been confirmed, but officials said during Friday’s press briefing that it was possibly related to power lines.
Pelle, who gave the early damage estimate, said there could be more injuries – and also deaths – due to the severity of the fire, driven by winds of up to 169 km per hour (105 miles per hour)
“This is the kind of fire we can not fight directly,” said Pelle. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas who had to move out because they were just overwhelmed.”
The fire burned 24.3 square kilometers (9.4 square miles), Pelle said. Flames are still burning, but officials do not expect any growth outside the fire area, he added.
By the first light on Friday, the towering flames that illuminated the night sky were gone, gone smoldering houses and charred trees a field. The wind died down, and light snow soon began to fall, giving rise to the hope that it could extinguish hot spots.
“Fortunately, snowfall will help put an end to the fires, and recovery efforts may be under way,” the White House said in a statement. statement Biden’s call with Polis, the state governor, was set out on Friday morning. “The president is grateful for all the first responders who came to the aid of Colorado communities and families affected by the fires.”
Mike Guanella and his family were relaxing at their home in the village of Superior and were looking forward to celebrating a late Christmas when reports of a nearby grass fire quickly gave way to an order to leave immediately.
Instead of opening presents, Guanella, his wife, their three children and three dogs stayed at a friend’s house in Denver, hoping their house was still standing. “Those gifts are still under the tree right now – we hope,” he said.
Scientists say make climate change again more extreme and wildfires more frequent and devastating.
Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, has a extremely dry and light autumn, while the winter so far has been mostly dry. Denver set a record for consecutive days without snow before experiencing a minor storm on Dec. 10, its last snowfall before wildfires.
Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought, and it has not seen significant rainfall since mid-summer.
“Cities in Colorado are flooded with wildfires and hundreds of miles-per-hour winds,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said on Twitter on Friday. “Anyone who denies that we are in the midst of a large-scale climate crisis does not live in reality.”
Officials in Colorado says they are still assessing the extent of the damage and are working to provide temporary housing to displaced residents. Rebuilding the burnt-out communities will not be easy, the governor said, thanking rescue workers, volunteers and first-responders for their work so far.
It was almost 70 ° in Alaska just a few days ago.
Cities in Colorado are flooded with wildfires and hundreds of miles per hour winds.
Anyone who denies that we are in the midst of a large-scale climate crisis does not live in reality.
We need brave climate action and we need it now.
– Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) 31 December 2021