The governor of Colorado said it will be a New Year “miracle” if reports continue to say that everyone survived the Marshall fire that broke out in Boulder County, leaving many families with only minutes to evacuate.
A rare urban wildfire fueled by strong winds destroyed at least 500 homes and possibly up to 1,000 north of Denver, according to early estimates on the last day of 2021.
On Saturday, however, Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, said it’s believed that two people are missing, according to the Colorado Sun.
Driven by wind gusts of 105 miles per hour, the Marshall Fire briskly spread to about 6,000 acres, destroying at least 500 homes and might have burned down up to 1,000 in heavily populated areas of Superior and Louisville in Boulder County, authorities said, according to Reuters, which added that at least six people were injured, but no loss of life had been reported as of Friday.
“We might have our very own New Year’s miracle on our hands, if it holds up that there was no loss of life,” Gov. Jared Polis was quoted as saying during a press briefing. “We know that many people had just minutes to evacuate.”
Hundreds of evacuees came back to their neighborhoods Friday after authorities said the fire was no longer considered an immediate threat, The Associated Press reported, adding that winds created a mosaic burn pattern due to which some homes remained untouched next to the ones reduced to smoking ruins.
“It’s unbelievable when you look at the devastation that we don’t have a list of 100 missing persons,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said, according to the newswire.
Just one person had been reported missing but was later found, The Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal reported.
“By the time I got up here, the houses were completely engulfed,” a resident, David Marks, was quoted as saying. “I mean, it happened so quickly. I’ve never seen anything like that. … Just house after house, fences, just stuff flying through the air, just caught on fire.”
The country sheriff said late Friday that two people had gone missing as a result of the wildfire, according to 9News.
One of the missing people has been identified as Nadine Turnbull, a grandmother.
“They tried to go out the front door with the neighbor. It was engulfed. Check the back door, it was engulfed,” Hutch Armstrong, who reported that Grandma Nadine Turnbull had gone missing, was quoted as saying.
Their cousin tried to go back for Nadine, but firefighters pulled her away, Armstrong continued. “She says two times she was right behind me — right behind me.”
According to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, while some downed powerlines were initially reported to have caught fire, officials found no downed powerlines where the fire started.