Colorado wildfires: Sheriff says debris and heat make it difficult to find 2 people

Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a briefing that researchers were actively working on two scenes looking for the missing on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a very, very difficult job, given the debris, the heat,” he said, adding that the teams were limited to using small tools.

On Sunday, the sheriff said his teams were looking for a woman from the city of Superior and a man from Marshall.

The Marshall Fire ravaged Boulder County on Thursday, leveling subdivisions and charring more than 6,000 acres. The fire destroyed nearly 1,000 houses, authorities estimate.

Pelle said Boulder County investigators are being assisted by the US Forest Service in finding evidence of how the fire started and that authorities are speaking to “dozens of people.”

“We haven’t eliminated or perfected any particular thing,” he said.

The FBI is also helping with research and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is ready to support the investigation into the Marshall fire, spokespersons told CNN from the FBI and the ATF.

Pelle said FBI agents help interview people when there are a lot of people to interview while the ATF provides certified fire investigators as well as expertise in fire investigations.

Governor Jared Polis told reporters the investigation will take time.

“What’s most important is getting it right, so whether it takes a week, a month or two months, doing it right is the most important,” he said.

Investigators will be meticulous, the sheriff said, adding that there may be evidence that will come to light when the recent snowfall melts.

No deaths have yet been reported from the blaze, officials said.

A man was arrested Thursday afternoon for threatening firefighters working at the time of the Boulder County wildfire, Louisville Police Chief David Hayes told a conference on Sunday. hurry.

“A man with an assault rifle threatened firefighters working in the area,” Hayes said. “A number of officers responded – both Louisville officers, Boulder sheriff’s deputies and I’m sure others – and we were able to take this person into safe custody.”

The chief noted that they had recovered “some weapons”.

Hayes was unable to provide information on why the man was threatening firefighters. He also could not confirm whether the man was residing in a house in the area.

When asked if the man was trying to protect his property, the Chief said: “I think he was probably angry and upset like a lot of people, but that’s obviously not the way to do it. . “

The man’s father told CNN on Monday that the only reason his son had guns in the car was because everything he owned was in the vehicle.

He said his son was “in shock” at the time and called the arrest “over-police” during a very stressful time. His son was on his property and was likely “disturbed” because his family had just lost everything, including irreplaceable family photos, the father said.

FEMA comes to the aid of fire victims

The Marshall Fire was one of two fires that started Thursday morning. Fueled by strong winds, its flames spread across drought-dried land, covering distances equivalent to a football field in seconds, ”Polis said last week.

The other blaze, known as the Middle Fork Fire, was attacked quickly and “resolved,” Pelle said.

Areas affected by the Marshall fire have since seen about 8 inches of snow, smothering the flames but also temporarily cutting off power. The fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in Boulder County, authorities said.

About 100 Federal Emergency Management Agency staff are assigned to assist victims of the Marshall Fire, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said.

Criswell, who investigated the fire damage with Polis on Sunday morning before speaking to reporters, said FEMA representatives will be at the disaster assistance center “from today.” to register people seeking additional help for expenses not covered by home insurance.

Criswell told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield after the press conference on Sunday that federal teams were working with state and local authorities to clean up the debris and develop a housing strategy for immediate and long-term needs.

“Some people are still in state-run shelters and others are staying with family and friends,” Criswell said. “We are going to work closely with the state and see what we can do with our non-collective accommodation program that is part of the disaster declaration, as well as other tools that we have in our toolbox to examine what long-term options we have to meet the specific needs of these communities.

A destroyed house is covered in snow in Louisville, Colorado on Friday, December 31, 2021.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration last week and a major disaster declaration on Saturday. According to the announcement of the major disaster declaration, federal funding is now available for those affected in Boulder County, which can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs as well as low-cost loans to cover the costs. uninsured losses.

Electricity still remains off for about 400 customers in the burning zone, according to Alice Jackson, president of the power company Xcel Energy-Colorado.

CNN’s Rosa Flores, Sharif Paget, Joe Sutton, Christina Maxouris, Natasha Chen, Dakin Andone, and Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

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