Colorado: Residents return following devastating fire

A woman stands in front of the remains of her cousin's house in LouisvilleImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the fire

Residents of Boulder County in Colorado have returned to scenes of devastation after snowfall helped extinguish the last of a raging wildfire.

The fire swept through 6,000 acres in just a few hours, destroying hundreds of homes.

One local resident said some families in the area that "lost everything" and it was a "Christmas miracle" that nobody was killed.

Tens of thousands of people fled as the flames engulfed the area.

The fire at its peak was driven by winds of up to 105 mph (169km/h) which caused flames to jump over highways and entire communities, local authorities told Reuters news agency.

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires, and experts say that fires in western North America have grown more intense in recent years.

Now snow has started to fall, officials say they do not expect the fire to pose any more danger.

People have started returning home to assess the damage, many facing scenes of complete destruction.

Media caption,
Woman who evacuated from Louisville says families in her neighbourhood have "lost everything"

In Louisville, Jeff Conroy told local media that he had watched his family's house burn to the ground.

"The fire department left before I did," he told USA Today. "They knew it couldn't be saved, but I had to watch. And I stayed until our house walls were fully gone."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Officials say they do not expect the fire to pose any further danger

Another Louisville resident, Linda Jackson, told the Denver Channel that her home of 20 years had been completely destroyed by the fire.

"I could see flames in my backyard and I knew I had to get out," she said. "I went downstairs, no electricity in my garage and my garage wouldn't open. I thought about just walking out and walking down the street, but I called 911 and the fire department came and got me out."

She said she knew her home "was just going to be ash".

Six people have been treated for injuries but no fatalities have been reported - something local officials described as a "miracle".

President Joe Biden has approved a disaster relief bill that will help those affected.

These latest fires in Colorado are burning in more suburban parts of the state and are coming relatively late in the season.

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