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Video appears to show start of Colorado's Marshall Fire that burned 1,000 homes

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Posted at 3:21 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 17:21:48-05

A video from a Colorado resident appears to show the early stages of the Marshall Fire, which prompted tens of thousands of people to evacuate last week. Local law enforcement said it is aware of the footage and an investigation into the fire is underway, according to CBS Denver.

The cellphone video, published to YouTube on Thursday, shows strong winds blowing heavy smoke and flaming embers, a shed burning, officials managing traffic and residents struggling to walk through a haze of smoke.

Jack Pommer, former Colorado state representative and Boulder resident, took the video. He told CBS Denver on Tuesday that he was on his way to buy groceries on Thursday when he noticed what appeared to be a small grass fire on the side of Highway 93. "It didn't seem like a danger at all," he said.

"Within a few minutes, literally a few minutes, I couldn't see two feet in front of the car. I was afraid to move for fear that there'd be a person or car in front of me and then the embers came by," Pommer told CBS Denver. "It was amazing. It was like I was in some kind of a special effects thing or something with all these red lines shooting all around me."

Click here to watch the video

Last Thursday, hurricane-force winds gusted up to 105 mph, stoking the Marshall Fire's flames across three cities. Nearly 1,000 homes burned, and two people remain missing as of Tuesday.

With help from a subsequent snowfall on Friday, 100% of the fire's 6,026-acre perimeter is contained. However, crews warned Monday that there are still areas of significant heat that could flare back up.

"It will take firefighters some time to methodically go around each structure to ensure that they are out and pose no hazard to the fire perimeter or adjacent unburned structures," the fire's incident management team said in an update. "Some areas of the fire may continue [to] produce smoke from smoldering vegetation and debris."

While certain residents have been given the green light to return home, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Monday that "it's still unsafe in many areas to return."

Meanwhile, more than 1,250 customers were without power on Tuesday afternoon, according to database PowerOutage.us, as freezing temperatures and strong winds are forecast throughout the week.

Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, which services residents within the fire's burn path, said hundreds of crew members are working to safely restore power, and that approximately 10,000 customers have had their service restored as of Tuesday out of the 13,000 who lost it due to the fire. She said the company has also provided more than 20,000 electric heaters to customers over the past week.

On Saturday, President Joe Biden approved Polis' major disaster declaration to support recovery efforts in affected areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday also activated its Disaster Unemployment Assistance program to those who became unemployed due to the fire.

"We know this is going to be a long road back for community members as well as businesses which is why the state is ready to assist our fellow Coloradans," Polis said in a statement Monday. "We are here for our neighbors in their time of need."