AUSTIN (KXAN) – At least one member of the Central and Southern region of the Texas Red Cross is traveling to Colorado to respond to wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Richard McAlister, the volunteer communications director for the region, said the volunteer, Rik Chapman, is what they call a “planning manager” and is “a highly skilled and experienced volunteer and has been deployed multiple times. across the country to support many natural disasters. . ”
Chapman will be the planning chief for all Red Cross response operations in Colorado. McAlister says he is currently the only volunteer from the Central Texas area to go to Colorado, but that “there will likely be more volunteers going to both Colorado and Kentucky in the near future.”
Tens of thousands of Coloradans have been forced to flee their homes after gusts of wind blew over power lines, igniting grass fires. Those fires quickly got out of hand and burned down at least 580 homes, according to the Boulder County Sheriff.
A shopping mall and a Target hotel were also set on fire Thursday night. Officials said the number of structures confirmed to be on fire is likely to increase as crews bring the fires under control and increased damage monitoring is carried out.
“It’s the kind of fire we can’t fight head-on,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in the areas who had to withdraw because they had just been overrun.”
Thursday’s wind was expected to subside until Friday morning as a storm system moved through the area near Boulder. This system could bring a few inches of snow to the area devastated by the forest fires.
Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, experienced an extremely dry and mild fall, and so far the winter has continued to be predominantly dry. Denver set a record for the most consecutive days without snow before there was a small storm on December 10.