Nearly 1,000 homes now found destroyed in Colorado fires; 2 people feared dead

The towns of Superior and Louisville took the brunt of the damage with 553 homes destroyed and another 45 damaged in Louisville.

BOULDER, Colo. -- Two people remain missing and are now feared dead after fires ripped through entire neighborhoods outside of Boulder, Colorado Thursday, destroying nearly a thousand homes. "Yesterday we were at three, today we have accounted for one of those gentlemen," said Boulder County Sheriff, Joe Pelle in a press conference Sunday. "So we are currently at two missing persons, and we are in the process today of trying to locate and, if possible recover those folks." 

According to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, the towns of Superior and Louisville took the brunt of the damage, with 553 homes destroyed and another 45 damaged in Louisville.  Crews counted 332 homes destroyed in Superior, with another 60 damaged.

Another 106 homes were burned in the county areas west of Superior, with 22 more suffering damage, Pelle said.

Pelle said the damage counts could still rise, but the bulk of the damage has been accounted for.

In addition, one woman remains missing in Superior, and a man is missing in Marshall, Pelle said.  Officials believe the two likely perished in the blaze, and cadaver dogs are being brought in to search for bodies Sunday.

The fires erupted Thursday afternoon as winds gusting as high as 75-90 mph roared through the Boulder area, with gusts exceeding 100 mph closer to the mountain foothills. Flames quickly overwhelmed communities and businesses and prompted more than 30,000 to evacuate.

"This was a disaster in fast motion all over the course of half a day," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said during a news conference Friday. "Many families having minutes, minutes to get whatever they could, their pets, their kids into the car and leave. The last 24 hours have been devastating. It's really unimaginable."

Over 6,000 acres burned in the fires, all within just 24 hours, officials said.

The cause of the fires remains under investigation.

While initial reports blamed downed power lines as the cause, investigators have to find credible evidence of fallen power lines.  Fire investigators are working several tips and have executed a search warrant in the area, but they have not uncovered any evidence so far, Pelle said.

Meanwhile, some residents in Superior and Louisville will be allowed to return to their homes. However, driving is limited to daylight hours, and power may not yet be restored to some areas, according to Dave Hayes with the City of Louisville.

After dealing with an extreme dry stretch and damaging winds during the event, crews faced a rapid change to wintry weather in the hours after the fires swept through. A storm dumped over 10 inches of snow in Boulder, with temperatures dropping to single digits Saturday morning.