United States – Fires declared “in the blink of an eye” suffocated by snow

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The snowstorm that swept over Colorado, United States, allowed the fires that ravaged the region to die out.

The fires that destroyed “in the blink of an eye” entire neighborhoods in the US state of Colorado were mostly extinguished overnight from Friday to Saturday, with heavy snowfall smothering the last embers. At least 500 homes have gone up in smoke and tens of thousands have had to flee, but no deaths have so far been reported, “a miracle” according to Governor Jared Polis.

The damage is no less striking: in aerial images, entire streets are little more than piles of smoking ash. The fire, unlike previous fires, affected suburbs and not just rural areas. “Families had only a few minutes to put everything they could – their animals, their children – in the car and leave,” Jared Polis said at a press conference on Friday. It happened “in the blink of an eye,” he said.

Balance yet to be determined

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Impressive flames tore the sky, fanned by strong winds, which blew up to 160 km / h Thursday. The fire was reportedly caused by power lines falling on arid soil. The final number of destroyed houses is not yet known. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle estimated it to be over 500 on Friday, saying he would “not be surprised if it was over 1,000.”

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The fire was consumed “in mosaic”, sparing certain districts to devastate the neighboring houses, he explained. “When you see the devastation, it’s amazing that you don’t have a list of 100 missing people, but you don’t have it,” said the sheriff. In an appeal with Governor Polis, President Joe Biden promised that “everything will be done to provide immediate assistance to the people and populations affected,” according to the White House. Joe Biden ordered federal aid to be paid to Colorado.

Snowfall

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On Friday, a layer of snow settled on the ashes of these devastating fires, in stark contrast to the furnace of the day before. The US Weather Service (NWS) has placed part of this mountainous western state on winter storm alert, forecasting heavy rainfall in the coming days.

This snow will “really help us,” said Joe Pelle, saying he no longer expected the fire to develop. Part of the evacuation orders were lifted overnight by local authorities. But places like Superior, with 13,000 inhabitants, are still prohibited from entering. People living in Superior, along with the 20,000 or so residents of Louisville, have been ordered to boil tap water or use bottles, with cities using untreated water to combat the fires.

Historic drought

Like much of the American West, Colorado, an already arid state, has struggled with exceptional drought for several years. With global warming, the intensity and frequency of droughts and heatwaves is likely to increase further, continuing to create ideal conditions for forest or bush fires. In recent years, the American West has experienced unprecedented fires, particularly in California and Oregon.

For Daniel Swain, a meteorologist at UCLA, it is “hard to believe” that these fires take place in December, a period usually not conducive to this type of event in the region. “But take a record-breaking heat and drought fall, only two centimeters of snow so far this season, and add a storm with extreme downward gusts … and the result is extremely dangerous, very fast moving fires,” the researcher tweeted.

Source From: Google News

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