2nd person found dead after Larimer County flooding, mudslides

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RUSTIC | A second body out of three people who went missing during flooding and mudslides in an area of northern Colorado burned by a massive wildfire has been found in a river, authorities said.

After a series of searches, including using heavy equipment to look through large piles of debris, no other searches were planned, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday, when the body was discovered in the Poudre River.

One other body, that of a woman, was found Tuesday near the small community of Rustic, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Denver, after a mudslide sent a large amount of debris into the scenic, winding Poudre Canyon that day.

Six homes were destroyed and another was damaged, all on the same road, the sheriff’s office said.

The flooding and slides happened in area that was burned last year by the 326-square-mile (844-square-kilometer) Cameron Peak Fire, the largest in Colorado’s history. Fires torch vegetation that usually helps absorb rain and keep the ground stable, making those areas more vulnerable to flooding, especially in steep sections. The soil in burned areas can also repel rain.

Extreme temperatures, low humidity, gusty winds and rough terrain contributed to the rapid growth of the fire, the first to spread to about 313 square miles (811 square kilometers) in the state, according to federal fire managers. A large amount of trees killed by beetles and stricken by the drought also fueled the growth of the fire, according to their final summary.

Scientists say climate change is responsible for more intense and frequent extreme weather like flooding and droughts and events like wildfires. But more research is needed to determine how much global warming is to blame, if at all, for a single event.

 

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