Biden Visits Colorado to Survey 'God-Awful' Fire Destruction as 2 People Remain Missing

President Joe Biden landed in Colorado on Friday to survey the "god-awful" destruction from a winter fire that blazed in the state, as two people remain missing.

Biden traveled to the state's Boulder County to look at the damage. He met with Governor Jared Polis and local elected officials. The president also met with area residents impacted by the fire. Biden again stated he would offer resources to help those affected by the state's most damaging fire on record.

"I can't imagine what's it's like to be here in this neighborhood and see winds whipping up to 100 miles an hour and see flames approaching," Biden said.

Biden said the destruction was "god-awful" before leaving the White House.

The blaze burned through two populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. It sparked in late December after months of drought compounded by a dry fall and a winter with little snowfall.

Approximately 35,000 people were forced from their homes. Almost 1,100 buildings, a majority of them homes, were destroyed, resulting in an estimated $513 million in damages.

Over 6,000 acres were burned, according to KDVR.

In the towns of Louisville and Superior combined, eight businesses were burned. Government agencies, along with nonprofits, have been offering aid to residents, including counseling, food, stipends and housing assistance. With rebuilding occurring during the pandemic, worker shortages and a lack of raw materials will slow the process and make it more expensive, the Associated Press reported.

"It's going to take forever," Kelley Moye, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Association of Realtors, was quoted by the AP.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Investigators have focused their search for a cause in an area close to Boulder where a passerby filmed a video of a burning shed on December 30, the day the fire started. However, authorities could still take weeks to determine what started the blaze.

Marshall Fire, Colorado, Joe Biden, Surveying Damage
President Joe Biden was traveling to Colorado's Boulder County to look at the damage from a recent fire that forced the evacuation of 35,000 people from their homes. In this aerial view, burned homes sit in a neighborhood decimated by the Marshall Fire on January 4 in Louisville, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Judy Delaware who met Biden in front of what was once her home, said the president was kind and listened and "he really comes across very differently than he does when he's doing his speeches."

"He really spoke from his heart and he had some really great answers for us, of what we need to do as far as next steps," she added. "He was very sincere and asked about our families."

Delaware said she had one last photo of her home, taken the night before the fire at her daughter's engagement party. "That was the last picture that was ever taken in the house."

"We know how soon a new disaster can come along," she added. "We just don't want them to lose sight of what's happened here,"

Traveling with the president on Air Force One to Colorado were the state's two senators, two members of Congress from the affected area, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, whose agency is providing federal assistance. In Colorado, he met 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.

Speaking after her husband, Jill Biden said she could tell "what a warm, strong community you are" and offered condolences to families who lost their pets in the fire.

She said she and the president are "animal people," too.

Greeting a line of firefighters and EMS personnel one by one, Biden passed out challenge coins bearing the presidential seal as he thanked them for their service with a handshake.

Toward the end of the tour, Jill Biden hugged a man who told her, "we lost everything." The president, who was speaking with another family then joined and offered a hug of his own.

"I'm not even properly dressed because this is all I have," the man said to the president, gesturing to his shorts. "We definitely need help," the man's son told Biden.

Stacy Moore stood in her backyard Friday afternoon surveying the fire's destruction of the home she'd lived in since the 1990s. She had been drawn to the area because it was supposed to be free of threats of wildfires, floods or tornadoes that other parts of the state typically see.

"I thought it was perfectly safe," she said.

Update (01/07, 9:09 PM): This story and headline have been updated to reflect Biden's visit to Colorado.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

After surveying the scene in Colorado, Biden was expected to travel to Las Vegas to attend Saturday's funeral for Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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