Biden investigates damage from Colorado wildfires, comforts victims



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Offering hugs and humor, President Joe Biden comforted Colorado residents struggling with rebuilding homes and businesses destroyed last week by a rare wind-whipped winter fire that passed through a pair. of heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. A victim was identified on Friday and one person remains missing among the 35,000 or so driven from their homes. Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived in the Harper Lake neighborhood of Louisville on Friday afternoon to assess the damage, passing the remains of burned houses next to damaged structures still standing. . They walked along a street where houses had burned down to their concrete foundations, meeting residents and local officials who oversaw the response and recovery operation. The president was also scheduled to deliver remarks. Before leaving the White House, Biden called the destruction “awful.” The fire started unusually late in December after months of drought with a dry fall and almost snowless winter. Almost 1,100 buildings, mostly houses, were destroyed, causing damage estimated at $ 513 million. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Investigators limited their search for the cause to an area near Boulder where a passer-by captured video of a burning hangar on December 30, when the blaze started. But it could still take authorities weeks to figure out how it started. Most of the destroyed buildings were houses. But the fire also burned down eight businesses in Louisville and neighboring Superior. Federal, state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations have offered housing assistance, counseling, food, allowances and other assistance to residents. The two state senators, two members of Congress from the affected area were traveling with the president on Air Force One in Colorado, and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, whose agency provides federal assistance. In Colorado, he met with Governor Jared Polis, Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and Louisville Fire Protection District Chief John Wilson, in addition to residents and first responders. . handed out challenge coins bearing the presidential seal as he thanked them for their service with a handshake. Stacy Moore stood in her garden on Friday afternoon, inspecting the burning destruction of the home she had lived in since the 1990s. She had been drawn to the area because she was supposed to be free of threats from her. forest fires, floods, or tornadoes that other parts of the state typically see. “I thought it was perfectly safe,” she said. the federal government and our municipal and state governments help educate people on how we can use best building practices, ”she said. He was told that home insurance would “not at all” cover the cost of rebuilding. Authorities on Friday identified a person whose remains were found near the source of the blaze earlier this week as Robert Sharpe, 69, of Boulder. In a statement, his family said Sharpe was a longtime resident who worked in the construction industry for many years. “The utter devastation of this event shocked and touched so many members of the community,” the family said in a statement thanking authorities for the intensive search for Sharpe. “Our hearts go out to the many other people who have suffered loss.” Last year, Biden made several trips to study the aftermath of weather events, including ice storms in Houston, wildfires in California, and flooding in New York and New Jersey. In mid-December, he visited residents of Dawson Springs, Ky., After a series of tornadoes swept through that state and seven others, killing dozens. After inspecting the scene in Colorado, Biden and the first lady were due to travel to Las Vegas to attend Saturday’s funeral for Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader. Reid died last week after a long battle with cancer at the age of 82. He and Biden had served together in the Senate. ___ Associated Press editor Patty Nieberg in Louisville, Colorado, contributed.

Offering hugs and humor, President Joe Biden comforted Coloradians struggling with rebuilding homes and businesses that were destroyed last week by a rare wind-whipped winter fire that swept through a pair of heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder.

A victim was identified on Friday and one person is still missing among the 35,000 or so driven from their homes.

Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived in the Harper Lake neighborhood of Louisville on Friday afternoon to assess the damage, passing the remains of burned houses next to damaged structures still standing. They walked along a street where houses had burned down to their concrete foundations, meeting residents and local officials who oversaw the response and recovery operation. The president was also scheduled to deliver remarks.

Before leaving the White House, Biden described the destruction as “horrible to God.”

The fire broke out exceptionally late in December after months of drought with a dry fall and very little snow in winter. Almost 1,100 buildings, mostly houses, were destroyed, causing damage estimated at $ 513 million.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Investigators limited their search for the cause to an area near Boulder where a passer-by captured video of a burning hangar on December 30, when the blaze started. But it could still take authorities weeks to figure out how it started.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden chat with people as they visit a neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado on Friday January 7, 2022 that was affected by the recent wildfire.

Most of the destroyed buildings were houses. But the fire also burned down eight businesses in Louisville and neighboring Superior. Federal, state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations have offered housing assistance, counseling, food, allowances and other assistance to residents.

The two state senators, two members of Congress from the affected area and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, whose agency provides federal assistance, were traveling with the president aboard Air Force One to Colorado . In Colorado, he met with Governor Jared Polis, Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and Louisville Fire Protection District Chief John Wilson, in addition to residents and first responders.

Greeting a line of firefighters and EMS personnel one by one, Biden handed out challenge coins bearing the presidential seal while thanking them for their service with a handshake.

Stacy Moore stood in her garden on Friday afternoon, watching the burning destruction of the house she had lived in since the 1990s. She had been drawn to the area because she was supposed to be free from threats of forest fires, floods, or tornadoes that other parts of the state typically see.

“I thought it was perfectly safe,” she said.

“I would love to see the federal government and our municipal governments and our state governments help educate people on how we can use best building practices,” she said. He was told that home insurance would “not at all” cover the cost of rebuilding.

Authorities on Friday identified a person whose remains were found near the source of the blaze earlier this week as Robert Sharpe, 69, of Boulder. In a statement, his family said Sharpe was a longtime resident who worked in the construction industry for many years.

“The utter devastation of this event shocked and touched so many members of the community,” the family said in a statement thanking authorities for the intensive search for Sharpe. “Our hearts go out to the many other people who have suffered loss.”

Last year, Biden made several trips to study the aftermath of weather events, including ice storms in Houston, wildfires in California, and flooding in New York and New Jersey.

In mid-December, he visited residents of Dawson Springs, Ky., After a series of tornadoes swept through that state and seven others, killing dozens.

After inspecting the scene in Colorado, Biden and the first lady were due to travel to Las Vegas to attend Saturday’s funeral for Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader.

Reid died last week after a years-long battle with cancer at the age of 82. He and Biden had served together in the Senate.

___

Associated Press writer Patty Nieberg in Louisville, Colorado, contributed.

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