The bodies of a man and a woman have been discovered in one of the 16 homes that were completely destroyed by a horrendous wildfire that forced hundreds to leave their towns and flee to mountainous areas near Denver. Now, authorities say third person is missing from the same area as the other bodies.
Outside one of the burned homes, authorities uncovered a woman's bodies on Monday evening and man's body was extracted from inside the house, reported the Associated Press. Authorities are still investigating if the deaths were caused by the fire, which grew to approximately 7 square miles.
About 900 homes have been evacuated and another 6,500 homes were warned to be prepared in case fires reached their further than expected. Last week, the fires were said to a controlled burn, but they began to spread when strong winds reignited flames, spreading the fire.
Ryan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Colorado State Forest Service, said that his agency conducted the controlled burn last Thursday. The fire was on land belonging to the Denver Water Board as part of an attempt to reduce fire danger. Lockwood said that these controlled burns are common in order to thin out weeds and vegetation, preventing unexpected fires, reported the AP.
This has been going on for the past year, Lockwood said.
A spokesman for Denver Water said that the agency was trying to be proactive, reported the AP.
Wind gusts reached approximately 90 mph on Monday, increasing the flames and preventing air crew from properly spraying fire retardant and forcing firefighters to remain on the defensives when approaching the flames.
Daniel Hatlestad of the Jefferson County Incident Management Team said the fire was burning so hot, that it was melting farm and construction machinery and molten metal flowed in a stream. Smoke was so think that authorities had difficulty navigated where they were as they surveyed the area, reported the AP.
Worried residents asked about their safety during a meeting, but Hatlestad said he was unsure which houses would be spared and which ones were already destroyed.
I can't tell you where the fire will go, he said according to the AP. Know that there are hundreds of people out there right now working to save your homes.
Still, this did not elevate the fears of residents.
I understand that it's a difficult situation, but it's our house, and we're in the target zone, evacuee John Ryan said, according to the AP. Another resident, Cindi Sjaardema, left behind a Corbette and a small airplane, escaping the flames.
We decided, 'Let's move now,' thinking we'd make two trips. But when we left, we passed a checkpoint and they said we couldn't go back, she said. My husband argued with the guy, (and) said, 'I left a Corvette back there, I'm going back.' But I said, 'No way. It's insured. It's just stuff.' We got out, and thank God.