Three people are missing and feared to have died in the fierce forest fire in Colorado

Three people are missing and feared to have died after a wildfire raged through two cities in Boulder County, Colorado, leading to thousands of evacuations and destroying nearly 1,000 homes, authorities said on Saturday.

Officials initially said there were no reports of deaths or missing residents after the rare city fire that broke out Thursday morning on the northern outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area.

Wind gusts of over 100 miles per hour (160 km / h) pushed flames east into the cities of Superior and Louisville, prompting the evacuation of both communities.

In about two hours, the fire had burned 6,000 hectares, officials said.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the three missing persons, whom he declined to identify, all lived in homes consumed by the fire.

“The structures where these people would be are completely destroyed and covered with about eight inches of snow,” Pelle said at a news briefing on Saturday, adding that carcass dogs will be deployed on Sunday to search the homes.

Pelle said 991 homes in Superior, Louisville and in unincorporated parts of the county have been destroyed, making it the most destructive forest fire in the state’s history of lost housing.

Officials initially said that sparks from broken power lines that were knocked down by the storm winds may have triggered the fire, but an inspection by the electricity company Xcel Energy found no damaged or broken lines near the fire’s believed origin.

Pelle said detectives are investigating all avenues to determine what ignited the fire. Following a tip, the sheriff said that a house search order was issued in connection with the investigation, but declined to give any details.

US President Joe Biden has declared the site a national disaster, freeing up federal funds to help affected people and businesses in recovery efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

(REUTERS)

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