Colorado: Two people still missing after massive fire

Two people were still missing and one was found alive, officials said on Sunday, destroying nearly a thousand homes in the US state of Colorado on Thursday.

Of the three missing, “one of those people was found alive and well,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pele told reporters, with searches still underway to locate the other two.

On Thursday, flames destroyed at least 991 homes in entire neighborhoods of two cities, Superior and Louisville, near the state’s main city of Denver, forcing thousands of people to flee in an emergency.

Friday’s snowfall stopped the fire from spreading, but also made the search for the missing people difficult. “It’s a very difficult discovery because of the debris, the heat, the snow,” Pele said.

The fire, called “Marshall”, raged on Thursday in the arid climate of this western United States state, with gusts of more than 160 km/h.

The damage is staggering: in aerial images, entire streets are little more than piles of smoking ash. Unlike the previous fires, the fire not only affected the rural areas but also the suburbs.

In the fire zone, about 1,000 homes had no electricity on Sunday, and more than 11,000 were without gas, according to Alice Jackson of Xcel Energy.

An investigation is on to ascertain the cause of the fire and a search warrant was issued on Saturday.

Colorado has been hit by an extraordinary drought for many years, as has much of the American West.

In recent years, this part of the United States has experienced unprecedented fires, particularly in California and Oregon.

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With global warming, the intensity and frequency of drought and heatwave episodes are likely to increase further, creating ideal conditions for wildfires or bushfires.

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