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State, federal officials tour aftermath of Colorado wildfire

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 02, 2022

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KMGH) — Colorado state leaders and federal officials on Sunday toured the devastation caused by the Marshall Fire.

After the tour, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Congressmen Joe Neguse and Jason Crow pledged during a press briefing the full support of federal and state agencies to provide assistance to the thousands of residents who lost their homes and those who are displaced because of the fire.

Finding housing for those who lived in the nearly 1,000 homes destroyedin the fire is FEMA’s main priority, Criswell said. While not offering any specifics, she said her agency is working with local officials to identify what those housing needs are.

“We’re bringing our federal teams together to work side-by-side with the state, the county and the city officials that have been impacted to develop what that housing strategy is going to be, both the immediate needs to put people into safe places as well as what the long-term housing needs might be as we work together to rebuild these communities,” Criswell said.

Saturday, FEMA made available disaster assistance for Marshall Fire victims. This relief can be used for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.govor by calling 1-800-621- 3362.

They also opened a Disaster Assistance Centerin Lafayette for residents to talk with FEMA representatives on ways to receive assistance.

Criswell stressed homeowners will need to first consult with their insurance companies before seeking additional help from FEMA, but added the agency will be with them every step of the way.

“I know this is going to be a long road to recovery, but know that the federal family, we are going to be with you 100% all the way through this,” she said.

The wind-driven Marshall Fire tore through Superior, Louisville, and parts of unincorporated Boulder County Thursday, destroying an estimated 991 structures and damaging 106 homes. Two people are missing and are feared dead.

It started around S. Cherryvale Road and Marshall Drive at around 11 a.m. Thursday and prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. It grew to become the most destructive fire in Colorado history. The cause is still under investigation.

During Sunday’s press briefing, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said a third person previously believed to be missing was found alive. Two people — a woman from Superior and a man from the Marshall area — remain unaccounted for and crews are using cadaver dogs to search for possible remains. The homes of those reported missing were destroyed in the fire. Pelle said recovery efforts are being hampered by the conditions.

Pelle, during a subsequent briefing, provided some additional details on the fire. He announced Saturday that tips led to a search warrant in connection with the investigation into the cause of the fire, but he again declined to elaborate on the details of that warrant or the investigation itself. He said a team made up of local and federal law enforcement are working on the investigation.

“Something ignited that fire in that wind, on a red flag day, and our job… is to determine what started that fire,” Pelle said. “I don’t have a definitive or final answer for you yet.”

This story was originally reported by Robert Garrison on