Boulder County fires: three missing from Marshall, Superior are suspected dead; thousands without gas and electricity in freezing temps

January 1, 2022
211231-POLIS-WILDFIRES-FLYOVER211231-POLIS-WILDFIRES-FLYOVERHart Van Denburg/CPR News

Updated at 2:57 p.m. on Jan 1.

NOTE: At a press conference on January 2, authorities reported that one of the three missing victims was accounted for and alive. Below is our original story.

Three people are missing after the Marshall Fire and authorities suspect they are dead, Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a press conference Saturday.

Pelle said the missing people — two from Superior, one from Marshall — were in their homes when the fires ripped through the area Thursday. He also said cadaver dogs and search teams will be called into service on Sunday. Their identities were not revealed.

“The structures where these folks would be are completely destroyed and covered in about eight inches of snow,” Pelle said at a news conference.

Pelle also said that authorities had received a number of tips about the potential causes of the fires and that a search warrant was executed at a property. He did not say where the search occurred. He also said that no downed power lines, which were thought to have been a possible cause of the fire, have been found. 

He said an investigation into the origin of the fires was ongoing.

Approximately 991 homes and other structures in Louisville, Superior and Marshall were destroyed and 127 were damaged, Pelle said.

Some Louisville, Superior residents can return home

Louisville police chief David Hayes said some residents will be allowed to return to their homes starting Saturday afternoon.

Areas considered to be under a hard closure will not be open. Residents whose homes are in soft closure areas will need an ID, utility bill or some kind of proof of residence. 

A map of hard and soft closure areas can be found here.

“It is important to remember that the fire may have changed the environment around your home and community, so please be cautious as you return to your home and neighborhood,” Hayes said.

Overnight snowfall, freezing temps causing complications

Snow blanketed metro Denver Friday night putting out hotspots and preventing further spread of the Marshall fire in Boulder County.

Communities in the affected burn areas received as much as 10 inches and frigid temperatures. 

But now many people whose homes didn’t burn are without gas and electricity in freezing temperatures expected to stick around through the weekend. 

About 7,500 Xcel customers in the Boulder area were without electric service Saturday morning. Those who can accept service are expected to be restored today, but natural gas service restoration will take a few days, according to Xcel. About 13,000 people are without gas. Temperatures will stay in the single digits through Saturday.

Superior also shut off water to restore pressure and prevent pipes from freezing. Crews are working to prevent further damage to homes. 

People who are without gas and cannot heat their homes can pick-up an electric heater from the  Red Cross shelter at the YMCA in Lafayette at 2800 Dagny Way or at the Boulder YWCA at 2222 14th St. between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. this Saturday or Sunday.

Biden approves major disaster declaration

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the grass fires in and near Boulder County. This will enable residents and business owners to apply for loans and grants for things like repairs and temporary housing. The Marshall Fire has burned an approximate 6,000 acres, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Tens of thousands of people evacuated from Superior and Louisville Thursday.

Pelle said Friday officials estimated some 500 homes had been destroyed in the fires, but added that he “wouldn’t be surprised if it was 1,000.” 
Those seeking to apply can visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621- 3362.

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