Investigators Are Narrowing Their Search for the Origin of the Colorado Wildfire

BOULDER, Colo. — Investigators seeking the cause of the Colorado wildfire that destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings have narrowed their search to an area near Boulder, but it could be days or weeks before details are released, the sheriff said Monday.

It is important to search for passers-by in the area. captured video of a burning shedOn the morning of the fire, Joe Pelle from Boulder County gave a briefing. According to him, dozens have been interviewed so far.

Pelle stated that experts from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and U.S. Forest Service participated in the investigation.
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The sheriff declined to offer many more details on Monday, a day after saying that the fire “originated somewhere” in the neighborhood with the burning shed.

Declaring that ”the stakes are huge,” Pelle said he would not comment on the probe until he was ready “to announce some progress — perhaps that may be a week, perhaps that may be a month.”

Getting it right, he said, was “more important than the urge for speed that a lot of folks are feeling right now.”

Although experts say that the fire in the winter was unusual, they predict similar fires will be more frequent as the climate changes and the rise of fire-prone suburbs. Following months of drought and snow shortages, unusually early in the year saw an inferno.

No downed power lines were found in the area being investigated, according to the county’s Office of Emergency Management.

Teams searched Monday night for two more people still missing. Survivors went through their burned houses to discover what was there.

Marshall Mesa, a Boulder County suburb known as Marshall Mesa, is located near the Rocky Mountain Foothills. It overlooks heavily populated areas to the east. This area is surrounded with tinder-dry open spaces and private grasslands.

The authorities issued a search warrant over the weekend. But the sheriff did not elaborate or comment on whether the fire was arson.

Colorado Wildfires
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey A woman looks on as Boulder County Sheriff’s officers investigate the origins of the Marshall wildfire Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Boulder, Colo.

A sheriff’s official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that several properties were under investigation, including one in the Marshall Mesa area, about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) west of the hard-hit town of Superior. On Monday, a National Guard Humvee prevented access to the area.

Crews searched for the missing in search of a woman from Superior, and for Marshall’s male counterpart. Pelle explained that crews were working by hand, using small tools, and sorting debris.

Louisville Police Chief Dave Hayes claimed that authorities used the cadaver dogs as an extra precaution to inspect destroyed properties. He said no one was reported missing in the heavily damaged city, but that “doesn’t mean we won’t find something.” Hayes told reporters after the briefing that he lost his own home and was wearing a change of clothes he asked someone to buy for him.

Gov. Jared Polis told the briefing that it was “remarkable that a fire of this speed and size” resulted in only two people missing. Polis stated that there were tens to thousands of evacuated people on Thursday and stressed the importance for everyone to follow evacuation orders.

“When you get a pre-evac or evacuation notice, hop to it. The residents did, and most of them are with us today,” he said.

While homes that burned to the foundations were still smoldering in some places, the blaze was no longer considered an immediate threat — especially with frigid temperatures and a blanket of snow that fell Saturday.

Many of the 991 destroyed buildings were residential. The fire also destroyed eight other businesses in a Louisville shopping mall, which included a Subway and nail salons. Twelve businesses sustained damage in Superior were also damaged. These included a Target and a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, as well as a Tesla dealership, hotel, and town hall.

Both towns lie approximately 20 miles (30km) northeast of Denver. Together, they have 34,000 inhabitants.

Utility crews visited all the houses that had been left intact to see if electricity and natural gas could be restored safely.

“Is there toxic fumes? Are we OK to move back in?” asked Nancy Alderson, who said she was worried about plastics and other materials consumed in the blaze.

The authorities provided thousands of space heaters for families that had to endure freezing temperatures in their homes over the weekend.

“What a relief,” uttered Louisville resident Carl Johns as a utility worker turned on a gas valve and went inside Johns’ home of 21 years to make sure appliances were lighting up. Since Thursday’s incident, he had been evacuated. Police drove through the neighbourhood and exhorted everyone to get out of the vicinity.

Some of his neighbors weren’t so lucky. One block down, a row stood of destroyed homes.

“That just blows me away,” Johns said. “The houses aren’t there, and you can’t recognize your own block.”

Boulder Valley School District is the school district that serves the wildfire zone. It plans to resume classes on Wednesday as planned and provide counselling services to students and staff who were affected by the fires. University of Colorado Boulder has delayed classes in person to January 24, while remote learning will begin Jan. 10.


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