Updated Jan 2, 2022 - Energy & Environment

The latest: Officials say three missing from Colorado’s Marshall Fire

Marshall fires

Uncollected mail sits in a mailbox in front of the remains of a home in the aftermath of the Marshall Fire on Dec. 31, in Louisville, Colo. Photo: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Three people are unaccounted for as of Saturday afternoon, according to Colorado officials, after the Marshall wildland fire tore through dense neighborhoods north of Denver, destroying what could be close to 1,000 homes.

Why it matters: Officials initially believed no one was missing.

  • “We thought we were at zero … but that was incorrect,” Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, said on Saturday. “Information is coming from multiple channels, we’re dealing with COVID … our communication channels were certainly stretched.”
  • "We're very fortunate that we don't have a list of 100 missing people. But unfortunately, we do have three confirmed missing people," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a press conference Saturday.

The latest: President Biden on Saturday announced an expedited major disaster declaration to help those impacted rebuild and provide aid to those who lost their homes.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday it had also authorized federal funds to help with firefighting costs.
  • The next day, snow fell on charred homes and piles of gray ash.

The big picture: The Boulder, Colorado-area fires — the most destructive in state history — were likely made worse by the effects of climate change, including extremely dry conditions and long stretches of record warm weather in recent months, according to Axios' Ben Geman and Andrew Freedman.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest news on the number of missing persons.

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