The President and the First Lady visited the city of Louisville, which was seriously affected by a forest fire that occurred last week.
President Joe Biden, who visited the site of the most destructive wildfire in the history of Colorado, said on Friday evening that this natural disaster that struck the Colorado forests in the winter season was an emergency and served as another reminder of the rapidly changing climate – a phenomenon that the Biden administration is going to oppose the renewable energy program.
“We cannot ignore the fact that these fires are being exacerbated by global warming,” Biden said after visiting Louisville, near Denver, which was severely damaged last week by the devastating Marshall Fire.
Two people were missing and most likely died after a fire that started on December 30 due to burning steppe grass, led to the destruction of more than 1,000 residential buildings. As a result, Marshall became the most destructive, in terms of material damage, fire in the entire history of observing natural disasters in the state of Colorado.
The fire in Boulder County, on the northern edge of the Denver Metropolitan Area, covered an area of about 6,000 acres (more than 24 square kilometers) and devastated some areas of Louisville and the neighboring city of Superior. Driven by a hurricane wind, the flames sometimes burned out areas of land the size of a football field in a matter of seconds.
Biden’s trip to Boulder County was his second visit as president to Colorado. The President and First Lady Jill Biden inspected the urban area most affected by the fire, where blackened fragments of buildings and burnt tree trunks protruded from under the snow cover. They talked to emergency workers and families who lost their homes as a result of the fire.
The President and First Lady were accompanied by Colorado Governor Jared Polis and three local legislators.
Addressing emergency responders and local residents, Biden said he was horrified by the scale of destruction he saw. The president, he said, was impressed by the “incredible courage and determination” of the people fighting the flames.
“We will make sure that you have everything you need,” Biden said, addressing the gathered people.
He noted that this natural disaster was the latest in a series of extremely destructive wildfires in Colorado and other places in the Western United States, which, according to experts, are caused by severe drought and an increase temperatures associated with climate change.
“The situation is a state of emergency for our country,” the president said.
Biden also took the opportunity to present his main legislative initiative, the Build Back Better bill, which provides for the allocation of billions of dollars for forest management, firefighting and carbon emissions reduction.
The bill, opposed by Republicans, was passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives back in November. He still has to get approval in the Senate, for which the administration needs to enlist the support of all Democratic senators.
Acknowledging that such measures will not bring immediate comfort to the people affected by the current fire, Biden said that increased investment in renewable energy sources will stimulate significant job growth and eliminate the looming threat of new natural disasters related to climate change.
Biden declared the fire that engulfed Boulder County a national disaster, freeing up federal funds to help residents and businesses with restoration work.
As a rule, the wildfire season in Colorado does not continue in winter due to snow and cold. However, as a result of climate change and global warming, vegetation in some parts of the western United States is becoming drier and more fire-prone.
According to the estimates of the disaster modeling company Karen Clark & Company, the insured losses from the fire will amount to about $ 1 billion. Local authorities estimated that the damage caused to residential buildings alone is over $ 500 million.