Colorado: Tornado spotted sweeping across field
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An estimated 30,000 people were evacuated from their homes after a huge inferno broke out on Thursday, fanned by winds that reached 105mph. The fire, believed to be the most destructive in the state’s history, destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and has left some communities as “smoking holes in the ground”, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
Just three people remain missing but rescue efforts have been severely hampered after a sudden snowstorm covered the debris in around eight inches of snow.
The sheriff said that the homes of the three missing people have been destroyed and lie under hot debris and the snow.
He said: “It’s all fallen in and it’s now covered with eight inches of snow. So search and recovery efforts are hampered substantially.
“What we’re doing tomorrow is bringing in cadaver dogs to help investigators see if we can pinpoint if in fact, there are human remains, if we can’t pinpoint where they would be and recover them safely.
“Right now it’s not even safe to step into the scene. We don’t know what’s underneath.
“We don’t know about the heat or anything else.
“So I have suspected we would have loss of life just based on the size of this fire and the speed and the ferocity.
“I think it’s miraculous that if it is three, it was three and not a hundred or hundreds.”
The wildfire ripped through approximately 9.4 square miles of terrain before firefighters brought the beast under control on New Year’s Eve.
At the time, governor of the state, Jared Polis, declared a state of emergency, saying: “This fire is not so much a question of resources. This fire is a force of nature.
“We hope that the winds die down, that the weather changes. But for those who are directly affected, know that you don’t stand alone.”
At time of writing, just seven people were reportedly injured by the fire including at least one first responder.
Further snowfall is expected in the region according to the US National Weather Service, with as much as nine inches (22cm) forecast.
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Keith Musselman, a snow hydrologist who lives in the region, said of the late snowfall: “With any snow on the ground, this absolutely would not have happened in the way that it did.”
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