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A 91-year-old woman from Colorado is one of two people missing and feared dead in the state’s devastating new year wildfires.
Nadine Turnbull, from Superior, has been missing for three days ever since Marshall Fire evacuations began on Thursday.
Her family say that she was in a home with one of her nieces as the fire draw closer. Somehow, the pair became separated as firefighters set about evacuating the area.
Nadine’s family hope that rescuers may have taken her to an evacuation center. She was reported missing to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
A 58-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s who had just week to live has been confirmed among the fire fatalities.
Gonzalo ‘Chalo’ Quesada died on Friday morning after he was saved from his burning home in Superior.
A former software engineer for IBM, Quesada was housebound and had no verbal or motor for ten years. Suffering from Alzheimer’s and aphasia, doctors believe he would not have lived for much longer.
Crews were still looking for a 91-year-old woman at a home in Superior. Nadine Turnbull, from Superior, has been missing for three days
Another of those who lost their lives in the inferno is 58-year-old Gonzalo ‘Chalo’ Quesada
Gonzalo ‘Chalo’ Quesada was suffering from Alzheimers and had just week to live
The hospice confirmed that Quesada died from a combination of his illness, smoke inhalation and the sheer physical trauma he experienced by the evacuation
Quesada was housebound and had no verbal or motor for ten years. Suffering from Alzheimer’s and aphasia, doctors believe he would not have lived for much longer
As tens of thousands of people began evacuating their homes, Quesada’s wife and sister were able to summon an ambulance before the Marshall Fire wiped out their entire block.
Quesada was taken to Avista Adventist hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation but then that too was forced to evacuate. Quesada was taken to a hospice in Denver.
‘They got him cleaned up and he was resting comfortably,’ says his wife Michelle Quesada to WWLP. ‘But his breathing was very erratic, and we knew he wasn’t going to make it through the night, the trauma from his body being jostled around and the smoke inhalation was really, really bad.
‘It’s really unfortunate that he was in the latter stages of his illness, and this was the way he was going to go out,’ she added.
The hospice center confirmed to the family that Quesada died from a combination of his illness, smoke inhalation and the sheer physical trauma he experienced by the evacuation.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the family who also lost their home in the fires.
Charley Ferrera, 8, walks through what remains of her grandfather’s house in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire on January 2, 2022 in Louisville, Colorado
Charley can be seen looking for anything salvageable as she scours the remains
Denny Ferrera, top, looks into the remains of his home as his son, Joe Ferrera, bottom, sifts through the rubble in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire
Charley Ferrera, 8, left, and her parents, Raelynn Ferrera, center, and Joe Ferrera, walks through what remains of her grandfather’s house in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire
Plastic is melted over a Colorado license plate in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire on January 2, 2022 in Louisville, Colorado
Colorado National Guard members secure locations burned by wildfire Sunday in Superior, Colorado
Investigators are still trying to determine what sparked a massive fire in a suburban area near Denver that burned neighborhoods to the ground and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and other buildings
On Sunday, search teams were still looking for two missing people in the snow-covered but still smoldering debris from a massive Colorado wildfire, while people who barely escaped the flames sorted through what was left after the blaze and investigators tried to determine its cause.
The flames ripped through at least 9.4 square miles and left nearly 1,000 homes and other buildings destroyed in suburbs between Denver and Boulder. It came unusually late in the year following an extremely dry fall and amid a winter nearly devoid of snow. Experts say those conditions, along with high winds, helped the fire spread.
In hard-hit Louisville, Susan Hill walked her dog in the well-below freezing chill Sunday morning down a snowy street. She choked up as she remembered three days ago seeing the sky change color from the hill where she used to watch fireworks – and then the nervous sprint out of town with her college-age son and the dog, cat and the fire box with birth certificates and other documents.
The flames stopped about 100 yards from her property, and she slept Saturday night in her home using a space heater and hot water bottles to stay warm since her natural gas service had not been turned back on.
A car sits in what used to be a garage in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire on Sunday in Louisville, Colorado
People walk through a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire. Officials reported that 991 homes were destroyed in the fire, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history
People walk through a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire in Louisville, Colorado on Sunday
A hole is burned in the corner of a Chuck E. Cheese’s after wildfires ravaged the area
Snow covers the burned remains of a shopping center after wildfires ravaged the area
The remains of the shopping mall will need to be razed to the ground following the destructive fire
Snow covers the burned remains of a Tesla dealership after wildfires destroyed the frontage
Snow covers the burned remains of a car after wildfires ravaged the area in Superior, Colorado
A burned truck in a destroyed neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado
People whose homes didn’t burn in a wildfire salvage some of their belongings over the weekend
Snow covers the burned remains of a car after wildfires ravaged the area
‘I don´t even know how to describe it,’ she said. ‘It´s so sad. It´s so awful. It´s just devastating.’
In the burned-out neighborhood near Hill´s home, a U.S. Mail carrier checked the still-standing brick and stone boxes for outgoing mail. The fire came so quickly people might have put bills or other letters in there, and she didn´t want someone to steal them.
While homes that burned to the foundations were still smoldering in some places, the blaze was no longer considered an immediate threat – especially with Saturday’s snow and frigid temperatures.
‘A day late and a dollar short,’ Hill said of snow, which scientists said typically prevents winter fires that spread in dry grass.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and federal emergency officials visited some of the damaged neighborhoods Sunday morning.
‘I know this is a hard time in your life if you’ve lost everything or you don´t even know what you lost,’ Polis said after the tour. ‘A few days ago you were celebrating Christmas at home and hanging your stockings and now home and hearth have been destroyed.’
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Utility officials found no downed power lines around where the fire broke out.
Charley Ferrera, 8, plays on a swing at what remains of her grandfather’s house
People walk through a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire
An Excel Energy truck drives through a destroyed neighborhood
Officials reported that 991 homes were destroyed in the fire, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history
A woman looks at the remains of a home in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire
A search team walks through a neighborhood destroyed by the Marshall fire
A car sits burned in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire
Pelle said Saturday authorities were pursuing a number of tips and had executed a search warrant at ‘one particular location.’ The sheriff refused to give details again Sunday, including whether he thought the fire was set.
‘It´s complicated and it´s all covered with a foot of snow,’ Pelle said of the scene where the fire started. ‘The outcome of that investigation is vital – there is so much at stake. We are going to be professional. We are going to be careful.’
Of at least 991 buildings destroyed by the fire, most were homes. But the blaze also burned through eight businesses at a shopping center in Louisville, including a nail salon and a Subway restaurant. In neighboring Superior, 12 businesses were damaged, including a Target, Chuck E. Cheese, Tesla dealership, a hotel and the town hall.
The two towns are about 20 miles northwest of Denver with a combined population of 34,000.
The Payanna family brings valuables back to their home in Superior, Colorado on Sunday, which was spared by the Marshall wildfire
A woman brings a heater back to her home after the Marshall Fire, in Superior
Marie Payanna brings photo albums back to her home in Superior, Colorado
A police officer guides residents carrying heaters and supplies to their homes in Superior, Colorado
Neighbors hug while bringing heaters and valuables back to their homes
A police officer talks to residents trying to get back to their home after the Marshall Fire damaged property in the area
A resident brings belongings back to her home that was spared by the Marshall wildfire
The Payanna family brings valuables back to their home that was spared by the fire
Utility crews expected to restore electricity to the homes still standing Sunday, but warned gas service might take longer to get back.
People lined up to get donated space heaters, bottled water and blankets at Red Cross shelters. Xcel Energy urged other residents to use fireplaces and wood stoves to stay warm and keep their pipes at home from freezing.
Superior resident Jeff Markley arrived in his truck to pick up a heater. He said he felt lucky to be ‘just displaced’ since his home is intact.
‘We’re making do, staying with friends, and upbeat for the new year. Gotta be better than this last one,’ Markley said.
Almost a foot of snow has been dumped on Colorado hampering recovery and rescue efforts in the wake of the wildfire that has less three missing presumed dead and thousands without homes
Ten inches of snow has fallen on Boulder as it recovers from the devastating wildfire. Snow and temperatures in the single digits cast an eerie scene amid still-smoldering remains of homes – with an estimated six feet of snow still forecast for certain parts of the state
Mike Jones of Boulder, Colorado shovels debris and snow out of his girlfriend’s home which was destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the Rock Creek neighborhood in the town of Superior, Boulder County, Colorado on January 1, 2022
Snow-covered walls are all that remain at a residence destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the Rock Creek neighborhood in the town of Superior in Boulder County
Businesses destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the town of Superior in Boulder County, Colorado are closed off with police tape on January 1, 2022
Snow covers the charred remains of a home destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the Rock Creek neighborhood in the town of Superior in Boulder County, Colorado
Steam rises around the snow covered remains of a home destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the Rock Creek neighborhood in the town of Superior in Boulder County
A snow covered car destroyed by the Marshall Fire is seen near destroyed homes in the Rock Creek neighborhood of Superior in Boulder County
A snow covered car destroyed by the Marshall Fire is seen near destroyed homes in the Rock Creek neighborhood of Superior
Sunlight illuminates the walls of a residence destroyed by the Marshall Fire in the Rock Creek neighborhood of Superior
The Marshall Fire was seen burning out of control on December 30, 2021 in Broomfield, Colorado
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told a press conference: ‘We’re very fortunate that we don’t have a list of 100 missing. But unfortunately we do have three confirmed missing people.
About 1,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed as the blaze raced through the towns of Superior and Louisville on Thursday, just outside the state’s biggest city, Denver, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee with little notice.
Shocking aerial footage showed whole streets as little more than piles of smoking ash, destruction that appeared almost total but somehow left a few homes oddly untouched.
Pelle said the search for the missing had been hampered by the destruction and snow.
‘The structures where these folks would be are completely destroyed and covered with about eight inches (20 centimeters) of snow right now.’
Investigators found no credible evidence to back earlier reports that downed power lines may have caused the fire, with Pelle stating that some residents may have been confused by downed telecom lines.
Louie Delaware embraces his wife Judy as his daughter Elise embraces her fiance McGregor Ritter after returning to the remains of their home in Louisville, Colorado
Homes were burned in the Marshal fire in the neighborhood between Harper Lake and S Centennial Parkway. The Marshall fire that tore through parts of Boulder County may have destroyed up to 1000 homes
However, investigators have ‘executed a search warrant in one particular location’ as part of an ongoing investigation that Pelle described as ‘very active’ and comprising federal and state partners.
The fire, which was sparked in a tinder-dry landscape, was then fanned by winds gusting at more than 100 miles an hour on Thursday.
‘This was a disaster in fast motion… over the course of half a day. Many families having minutes to get whatever they could — their pets, their kids — into the car and leave,’ Governor Jared Polis said, ‘just as in the blink of an eye.’
Debris lies scattered in the basement of a home destroyed by wildfire in unincorporated Boulder County, Colorado
At least 33,000 people in Superior and Louisville were told to flee, many doing so with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Pelle said he spoke to the granddaughter of one of the missing on Saturday morning.
‘They’re trying to find grandma. And we’re trying to find grandma for her,’ he said. ‘But the conditions right now don’t make that possible to do quickly.’
While snowfall had helped extinguish the fire, it was a ‘hard thing for crime scenes, and recovery efforts and damage assessments,’ Pelle said.
The fire, which occurred just before the New Year’s holiday, follows mid-December tornadoes in the state of Kentucky that left dozens dead and thousands of families in crisis mode ahead of Christmas.
Although fires are a natural part of the climate cycle and help to clear dead brush, their scale and intensity are increasing.
Scientists say a warming climate, chiefly caused by human activities such as the unchecked burning of fossil fuels, is altering weather patterns.
One couple returned home Friday to find the mailbox about the only thing left standing. Charred cars and a burned trampoline lay outside smoldering houses.
On some blocks, homes reduced to smoking ruins stood next to ones practically unscathed by the flames.
A burned out car sits in the middle of the road amidst the remnants of a wildfire in Louisville, Colo., on Frida
Pictured: John Peer finds a couple of plates as he looks through the rubble of his fire-damaged home after the Marshall Wildfire in Louisville, Colorado, Friday
Renato D’Amario, left, hugs neighbor Lori Peer after finding their homes destroyed, Friday, while neighbors embrace after seeing the destruction left by the Marshall Wildfire, right
The wildfire broke out unusually late in the year, following an extremely dry fall and amid a winter nearly devoid of snow so far.
The sheriff said some communities were reduced to just ‘smoking holes in the ground. He urged residents to wait for the all-clear to go back because of the danger of fire and fallen power lines.
Cathy Glaab found that her home in the town of Superior where she lives with her husband had been turned into a pile of charred and twisted debris. It was one of seven houses in a row that burned to the ground.
‘The mailbox is standing,’ Glaab said, trying to crack a smile through tears. She added sadly. ‘So many memories.’
Despite the devastation, she said they intend to rebuild the house they had since 1998. They love that the land backs up to a natural space, and they have a view of the mountains from the back.
Rick Dixon feared there would be nothing to return to after he saw firefighters try to save his burning home on the news. On Friday, Dixon, his wife and 21-year-old son found it mostly gutted with a gaping hole in the roof but still standing.
Only smoldering rubble remained where several neighboring homes once stood in a row immediately next to theirs.
‘We thought we lost everything,’ he said, as he held his mother-in-law’s china in padded containers. They also retrieved sculptures that belonged to Dixon´s father and piles of clothes still on hangers.
The wildfire erupted Thursday in and around Louisville and Superior, neighboring towns about 20 miles northwest of Denver with a combined population of 34,000.
Tens of thousands were ordered to flee as the flames swept over drought-stricken neighborhoods with alarming speed, propelled by guests up to 105 mph.
At a Costco in Superior, two store employees came running toward the checkout lines, one of them shouting, ‘Everyone evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!’ said Katrina Peterson, who was inside.
Pictured: a burned out car sit in the driveway of a home destroyed by the Marshall Wildfire in Louisville
A fire still burns in a home destroyed by the Marshall Wildfire in Louisville
Pictured: a man reacts to seeing the remains of her mother-in-law’s home destroyed by the Marshall Wildfire
A video she made showed dark skies and whirling debris outside. The falling ash filled her ears, and she had to squint to keep it from getting in her eyes. The store was left standing.
With some roads still closed Friday, people walked back to their homes to get clothes or medicine, turn the water off to prevent the pipes from freezing, or see if they still had a house.
They left carrying backpacks and pulling suitcases or wagons down the sidewalk.
David Marks stood on a hillside overlooking Superior with others, using a pair of binoculars and a long-range camera lens to see if his house, and those of his neighbors, were still there, but he couldn’t tell for sure whether his place was OK. He said at least three friends lost their homes.
He had watched from the hillside as the neighborhood burned.
‘By the time I got up here, the houses were completely engulfed,’ he said.
‘I mean, it happened so quickly. I’ve never seen anything like that. … Just house after house, fences, just stuff flying through the air, just caught on fire.’
A woman cries as she sees her burnt down home. Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their homes by a wind-whipped wildfire anxiously waited to see what was left of them Friday
A Firefighter puts water on a hot spot after a wildfire in Louisville, Colorado, Friday
Renato D’Amario, pictured center, tries to open his safe with family members Francisco Declaw, right, and Jessica DeClaw, left, after finding his home destroyed
By first light Friday, the towering flames that had lit up the night sky had subsided and the winds had died down. Light snow soon began to fall, and the blaze, which burned at least 9.4 square miles, was no longer considered an immediate threat.
‘We might have our very own New Year’s miracle on our hands if it holds up that there was no loss of life,’ Governor Jared Polis said, noting that many people had just minutes to evacuate.
Sarah Owens, her husband, adult son and their dog got out of their Superior home within ten minutes of learning about the evacuation from a Facebook post.
But as everyone tried leaving by way of the winding streets of the well-to-do Rock Creek neighborhood, it took them one and a half hours to go 2 miles.
‘The good news is I think our house may be OK,’ Owens said.
But from now on, she said, she plans to have a bag packed in case of another fire.
‘I never thought a brush fire could cause this kind of destruction,’ Owens said.
Residents fight the Marshall Fire in Louisville, Colorado, Thursday, as fire crews worked through the night battling the blaze that had destroyed more than 500 home
Renato D’Amario looks over what remains after finding his home destroyed by the Marshall Wildfire in Louisville, Colorado, Friday
‘I want to stay here. No matter where you live, there are always going to be natural disasters.’
Superior and Louisville are filled with middle- and upper-middle-class subdivisions with shopping centers, parks and schools. The area is between Denver and Boulder, home to the University of Colorado.
Scientists say climate change is making weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought, and it hasn’t seen substantial rainfall since mid-summer.
Denver set a record for consecutive days without snow before it got a small storm on December 10, its last snowfall before the wildfires broke out.
Bruce and Mary Janda faced the loss of their Louisville home of 25 years in person Friday after learning it had been destroyed through a neighbor’s photos.
‘We knew that the house was totaled, but I felt the need to see it, see what the rest of the neighborhood looked like,’ Bruce Janda said.
‘We’re a very close knit community on this street. We all know each other and we all love each other. It’s hard to see this happen to all of us.’