Three people are missing after a deadly wildfire swept through Colorado and burned more than 1,000 homes in the Boulder area, damaging or completely destroying the residences.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a news conference Saturday that two people are missing from the Superior area and another from the Marshall area, jurisdictions in Boulder County.
Pelle said the missing resident's homes were destroyed in the wildfire blaze and police were treating it as a rescue operation, though he feared they were dead. The collapsed homes are now buried underneath heavy snow.
"I suspect we would have a loss of life based on the size of this fire, the speed and ferocity. I think it's miraculous it's just three and not hundreds," the sheriff said. "We're very fortunate we don't have a list of 100 missing."
The wildfire was sparked Thursday night after high winds pushed across parched grassy land following an unusually dry season. The conflagration spread to at least 1,300 acres of land.
The Boulder County sheriff said authorities don't know yet how the fire started, but an investigation was underway. Some have suspected downed power lines could have initiated the blaze.
"If it turns out to be arson or reckless behavior we will take appropriate action," Pelle said. "It was a red flag the day of the fire, there shouldn't have been any burning of anything."
Most of the Superior and Marshall areas of the county were still under an evacuation order as of Saturday, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, with downed power lines and trees at risk of falling.
The wildfire was the deadliest in state history.
Following the fire, thousands of people remain without power as a cold winter storm moves across the state. Boulder County is operating an emergency shelter at a YMCA in Lafayette.