The new year began in tragedy for households in Colorado, as wind-driven wildfires swept through numerous suburban neighborhoods and left homes and businesses in rubble and ash.
About 991 homes were destroyed after the Marshall and Middle Fork fires blanketed the Denver suburbs and Boulder County, Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff, told USA Today. An additional 127 homes were damaged by fire. Officials continue to assess the full extent of the damage. Most of the damage took place in just half a day, USA Today reports.
Tens of thousands of Colorado residents were forced to flee their homes as the fires scorched about 6,000 acres. The wildfires erupted last Thursday in and around Louisville and Superior, about 20 miles northwest of Denver.
“New Year’s Eve is usually a time of celebration, but with more than 600 homes burned from the Marshall and Middle Fork Fires in Boulder County, our hearts are heavy this year,” the Denver Metro Association of REALTORS® posted on its Facebook page on Dec. 31, 2021. “We hope that our members and their loved ones impacted by the devastation are safe.”
REALTORS® are already making plans to help wildfire victims. On its Facebook page, the Colorado Association of REALTORS® announced it is working with local and national association leaders to help raise and donate housing-related relief funds to those affected. The Colorado association said it will work with local associations and the National Association of REALTORS® to provide additional resources and financial support to the victims in the coming days, including to any REALTORS® who may have been affected by the wildfires.
The cause of the fire continues to be under investigation. Officials say the cooler temperatures and snow have mostly brought the fires under control. After evacuation orders prompted them to flee, homeowners are now returning to discover the fate of their homes.
The wildfires started unseasonably late in the year. The area experienced both a very dry fall and a winter that had lacked snowfall until recently. Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought.