National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR] wildfire 0% containment, 19,000 evacuated

2 Timothy 3:1 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Authorities tell 19,000 to evacuate due to Colorado wildfires
  • Fire started and burned protected wildland near the National Center for Atmospheric Research, according to Boulder police.
  • No structures had yet been damaged when the order was issued and no injuries were reported.
  • The wildfire was fueled by wind earlier Saturday and had grown to 122 acres with zero containment, promoting the evacuation order for 19,400, according to Boulder Fire-Rescue spokesperson Marya Washburn.
  • As spring begins, more than half the US is experiencing drought conditions that are expected to worsen as unseasonably warm and dry conditions are expected across the South, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s most recent report.

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991 buildings destroyed in Colorado fire

Important Takeaways:

  • Investigators narrow search for origin of Colorado wildfire
  • Most of the 991 buildings destroyed by the fire were homes. But the blaze also burned through eight businesses at a shopping center in Louisville, including a nail salon and a Subway restaurant. In neighboring Superior, 12 businesses were damaged, including a Target, a Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria, a Tesla car dealership, a hotel and the town hall.
  • Among the homes that were still intact, utility crews went door to door to check if natural gas and electricity could be safely restored.

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Wildfire and high winds in Colorado

2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

  • ‘Life threatening’ wildfires raze at least 600 homes, a shopping mall and a hotel to the ground in Boulder, Colorado: State of emergency declared after ‘historic’ December blaze sparked 30,000 to evacuate
  • Two grass fires were sparked in Colorado on Thursday morning after strong winds caused power lines to fall and transformers to explode
  • XCel Energy Colorado reported that 22,500 people were without power at of 10:30pm local time in Colorado
  • Roads have been closed as high wind have blown several vehicles over and Denver International Airport temporarily halted flights
  • The unseasonal fires came after smaller fires were reported in the state, at the end of a bone-dry summer and fall.
  • Joe Pelle, sheriff of Boulder County said the damage had been significant, and at 7pm one of the two fires was out but the larger Marshall Fire had burnt more than 1,600 acres.

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100mph winds push fires through Boulder

Luke 21:25,26    “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • BREAKING: 600+ Homes Destroyed! Terrifying Video as Residents Flee Massive Firestorm
  • More than 500 homes and businesses have already burned as a massive wildfire sweeps through Boulder County, Colorado
  • Thousands of people have been ordered to immediately evacuate. Winds are blowing at more than 100 mph

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Now considered a mass shooting in Denver

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘It’s a shock’: Colorado police ID shooter who killed 5 people in Denver-area shooting spree
  • Six people died, including the shooter, authorities said. Two people were injured, including a police officer.
  • This was the 13th mass shooting in Colorado this year
  • The archive defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot, not including the shooter, at the same general time and location.
  • In the U.S., there have been nearly 700 mass shootings in 2021

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Accused Colorado supermarket shooter deemed mentally incompetent

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) -Psychologists who evaluated a 22-year-old man accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Colorado grocery store in March have found him incompetent to stand trial, but prosecutors are seeking a second mental health evaluation, court records showed on Monday.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, and dozens of attempted murder and related charges stemming from the March 22 rampage at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, about 28 miles northwest of Denver.

Prosecutors allege Alissa stormed the supermarket and opened fire with a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic pistol that he had legally purchased six days before the rampage.

Among those killed was a responding Boulder policeman.

Alissa has been held without bond since his arrest, and last month a judge ordered that he undergo a competency evaluation.

The report by the two court-appointed psychologists has not been released, but their conclusions were set out in a motion filed by prosecutors for a second examination, to which defense lawyers object.

In their motion, prosecutors argued that the initial evaluation showed Alissa is aware of his legal predicament.

“Defendant indicates an understanding of his charges, the potential sentence, the roles of the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney,” the prosecution motion said.

In objecting to the prosecution request, defense attorneys said Alissa mistakenly believes he could be executed if found guilty.

“The death penalty is not a potential sentence in this case, and the report reflects his (Alissa’s) fixation on that as a sentence,” the defense motion said.

Under Colorado law, a judge is required to conduct a competency hearing before ruling on whether a defendant is mentally fit to stand trial.

The judge has not ruled on the prosecution request, though the issue will likely be argued during an Oct. 14 competency review hearing.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Grebler and Alistair Bell)

Colorado police officers, paramedics charged in 2019 death of Black man

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) -Three Colorado police officers and two paramedics have been criminally charged in the death of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died in 2019 after he was subdued and injected with a sedative, the state attorney general said on Wednesday.

McClain, 23, was confronted by police in the Denver suburb of Aurora as he was walking home from a convenience store on reports he was acting suspiciously, although he was not suspected of a crime.

Police placed McClain in a carotid neck hold and was later injected by paramedics with ketamine, a powerful sedative. He went into cardiac arrest and died days later at a hospital.

A state grand jury handed up a 32-count indictment, including manslaughter and assault charges, Attorney General Phil Weiser said at a news conference.

The case drew national attention after George Floyd, a Black man, died in May 2020 when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. The case, which resulted in a murder conviction and a 22 1/2-year sentence for Derek Chauvin, galvanized a protest movement against the unjustified deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.

“Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosley, said in a statement after the announcement of the indictments.

(Reporting By Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)

U.S. West faces little-known effect of raging wildfires: contaminated water

By Donna Bryson

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) – Early this spring, water bills arrived with notes urging Fort Collins Utilities customers to conserve. The Colorado customers may have thought the issue was persistent drought in the U.S. West.

But the problem was not the quantity of water available. It was the quality.

Utilities are increasingly paying attention to a little-known impact of large-scale fires: water contamination.

Huge forest fires last year denuded vast areas of Colorado’s mountains and left them covered in ash – ash that with sediment has since been washed by rains into the Cache la Poudre River. The river is one of two sources for household water in this college town of 165,000. With more and fiercer storms expected this year, officials worry about water quality worsening beyond what treatment systems can handle.

The problem could apply to watersheds across the U.S. West, which has faced ever-increasing extremes in heat, drought and wildfire amid climate change in recent years. The United States relies on water originating on forested land for about 80% of its freshwater supply, according to a government report.

“If a wildfire is not in my watershed, it will be in someone else’s watershed,” said Sean Chambers, director of water and sewer in the nearby northern Colorado town of Greeley.

So far, Chambers and other northern Colorado utilities managers have avoided clogged pipes simply by skipping the Cache la Poudre water and using other supplies. But they worry that’s not a long-term solution, and so they sent out those notes pleading with customers to voluntarily conserve: Water lawns sparingly. Don’t let the hose run on the sidewalk when washing your car.

THE COST OF WATER

Corporate headhunter Jim Croxton moved to Fort Collins so he could take in the mountain scenery while fishing.

“I really don’t care about how big the fish are,” Croxton said after buying a half dozen flies at a Fort Collins fishing and guide shop. “I just like to be out in” nature.

He had considered drought to be the West’s water concern. But the utility’s letter urging conservation struck a chord; he had read about polluting fires affecting recreational fishing, too.

“Water in the West is a central issue,” Croxton said.

Fort Collins water rates rose 2% from January. That works out to less than $1 per month for the typical home, and generates about $600,000 toward covering an estimated $45 million in potential fire-related measures, according to calculations prepared for Fort Collins City Council.

Those measures include laying mulch on burn scars to hold down soil, and funding further fire impact research. To make up the balance, officials in Fort Collins, Greeley and other communities are pooling resources and seeking state and federal help.

Katrina Jessoe is an economist at UC Davis who has advised utilities on seeking funding to decontaminate water supplies from pollutants such as fertilizers.

“You can’t get around the fact that the cost of water is getting higher,” which could be a concern for low- and middle-income earners, Jessoe said.

Water managers say they need also to explore new ways of raising funds and making capital improvements to deal with fire-related contamination, for example, removing tastes and odors left by algae fed by nutrients in the sediments washed into reservoirs. The tastes and odors don’t mean the water is unsafe, but customers don’t like it.

Water managers are “making decisions right now that will affect whether or not this is a livable place in 50 years, 100 years,” said John Matthews, who heads the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, a nonprofit that advises on adapting water systems for climate change.

UNPRECEDENTED FIRES

The two fires that have marred the watersheds relied on by Fort Collins, Greeley, Thornton and other towns were notable not just for the devastation they caused, but for having burned at such high elevation.

“We really don’t understand these high-elevation fires very well, because they haven’t happened very often,” said Matt Ross, an ecosystem scientist at Colorado State University who is studying how last year’s fires are impacting algae blooms now.

The Cameron Peak Fire broke out in August and was the first in Colorado history to consume more than 200,000 acres, including swathes of the Arapahoe and Roosevelt national forests and Rocky Mountain National Park. The East Troublesome came close, burning 193,812 acres across the Continental Divide.

In both cases, flames tore through forests where rivers originate and where snowpack – that frozen reservoir – builds up over winter.

Given the large region burned, researchers need to understand how long it will take for vegetation to grow back, so it can keep sediment from washing into water sources, said biogeochemist Chuck Rhoades at the U.S. Forest Service.

“The implications are that people need to think a little bit more about how to manage and sustain reservoirs,” Rhoades said.

(Reporting by Donna Bryson; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

Suspected Colorado supermarket shooter appears in court, faces more charges

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – A 22-year-old man accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Colorado grocery store in March made a brief court appearance on Tuesday, a day after prosecutors added dozens of new charges stemming from the rampage.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa now faces 115 charges related to the March 22 mass shooting at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, about 28 miles northwest of Denver.

He previously was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder, among other offenses.

On Tuesday, Boulder County District Court Judge Ingrid Bakke set a September 7 date for a preliminary hearing, when prosecutors will lay out their evidence and Bakke will decide if it is sufficient to move ahead with the case.

On Monday, prosecutors added dozens of new counts of attempted murder, weapons, and assault charges.

District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a written statement that investigators have identified other victims, leading to the additional charges.

“Based on developments in the ongoing investigation, the District Attorney’s Office has determined that additional crimes and sentence enhancers must be charged in this matter,” Dougherty said.

The state public defender’s office, which represents Alissa, does not comment on its cases outside of court, but at an earlier hearing a defense lawyer said Alissa has a “mental illness.”

If convicted of first-degree murder, Alissa faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors allege Alissa opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol that he had legally purchased. He surrendered after he was wounded by police during an exchange of gunfire.

Prosecutors said they have not yet determined a possible motive for the attack.

Alissa, who has not entered a plea, is being held without bond at an undisclosed lockup.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Boulder shooting suspect held without bail while he undergoes mental health assessment

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – A judge in Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday ordered a 21-year-old man accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a supermarket to be held without bail while he undergoes a mental health assessment requested by his lawyers.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa faces 10 counts of murder and an attempted murder charge stemming from the rampage on Monday at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, some 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Denver.

Appearing at a hearing in Boulder County court, Alissa affirmed that he understood his rights under the law and understood that he would be held without bail, as ordered by Judge Thomas Mulvahill.

Prosecutors may file additional charges against Alissa in the coming weeks, District Attorney Michael Dougherty told the judge.

Defense lawyers for Alissa requested that the suspect undergo a full mental health assessment, which would likely push back his preliminary court hearing by a couple of months. Alissa waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 35 days to allow time for that assessment.

“We cannot do anything until we are able to fully assess Mr. Alissa’s mental illness,” said Kathryn Herold, a defense attorney for Alissa. Herold’s previous clients include a Colorado man who pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 2018.

Another public defender representing Alissa, Daniel King, defended the gunman who killed 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012.

The bloodshed at King Soopers was the nation’s second mass shooting in less than a week, after a gunman fatally shot eight people at three Atlanta-area day spas on March 16.

The two attacks have reignited a national debate over gun rights and prompted President Joe Biden to call for new legislation from Congress. A bill intended to impose stricter background checks and ban certain types of semi-automatic rifles has stalled amid Republican opposition.

On Monday afternoon, Alissa arrived at the grocery store carrying a handgun and wearing a tactical vest, according to an affidavit. Six days earlier, he had purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol, a weapon that resembles a semi-automatic rifle, the affidavit said.

The supermarket, still a closed-off crime scene, has turned into a memorial site, with people leaving flowers, candles and condolence messages outside. Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver told CNN on Thursday that the city was looking into creating a more permanent memorial nearby.

Among the victims were store employees, a grandfather-to-be and a Boulder policeman who was first on the scene. The attacks terrorized the community and felt all too familiar in a state that has experienced some of the most shocking episodes of gun violence in U.S. history.

Darcey Lopez, a King Soopers employee who hid in a cabinet beneath the cheese-wrapping station in the store when the gunman opened fire on Monday, is still reeling from the horror she lived through.

“I still hear the gunshots in the store – it’s just something that kept playing over and over in my mind for about the first 24 hours. Now it’s at night. It’s really bad at night,” Lopez said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman, Gabriella Borter, Maria Caspani, Sharon Bernstein, Nathan Layne and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)