Coloradoans Assess Fire Loss

One woman finds just the mailbox still standing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2021 4:40 PM CST
Coloradoans Return to Where Homes Stood
A fire still burns Friday in the ruins of a home in Louisville, Colo.   (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Forrest Smith fled his home in Louisville, Colorado, with only a coffee cup, a water cup, and his cellphone. In the rush, as hot ashes burned him while he started his car, he'd even left behind his wallet, USA Today reports. "For some reason, I'm thinking in my mind, I'm just going to come back, you know?" he said. Smith hasn't been back to his house since he escaped the wildfires Thursday, unsure of where he was going; he eventually found his way to a shelter. He's certain his home is gone. The Boulder County sheriff said Friday that as many as 1,000 homes may have burned. No deaths have been reported.
Snow began falling Friday, and officials expected the fire wouldn't spread any farther.

Although some roads were still closed, other residents did make it to their homes Friday. Many found them in ruins, often next to houses that were untouched, the AP reports. In Superior, Cathy Glaab's house, her home since 1998, was among a row of seven destroyed. "The mailbox is standing," she said, trying to smile. "So many memories." Glaab and her husband plan to rebuild. Other people pulled suitcases or wagons down the sidewalk after salvaging items from their homes. Ruthie Werner of Louisville had driven to Target on Thursday and found the parking lot on fire, per the New York Times. "It felt like the apocalypse," she said.

The cause of the fire isn't known, though a downed power line is a suspect. Severe drought had created conditions that enabled the flames to flourish. Boulder County hasn't had significant rain since midi-summer, and 90% of the county remains in severe or extreme drought. A 36-year-old in Broomfield said she grew up with "snowy Christmases" and mild summers. Now, "as a millennial, I'm just looking outside and I’m seeing climate change," Angelica Kalika said. "I'm seeing my future." (More Colorado wildfires stories.)

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