Colorado Fire Probe Focuses on Area Near Religious Compound
(Bloomberg) -- Colorado officials probing the start of a fire that engulfed more than 1,000 buildings near Boulder last week are examining an area near a small religious compound, although the local sheriff warned pinpointing a cause could take months.
Investigators into the Marshall Fire are focusing on an area near the Twelve Tribes Christian community, a fundamentalist group, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Monday. He cautioned that the entire area was being examined, not just the compound, and noted that the investigation was just getting started.
“We haven’t eliminated or homed in on any one specific thing,” Pelle told reporters at a press conference. “You’re going to lose your patience, because it’s going to take awhile.”
Pelle said investigators have spoken with dozens of people about the fire, but he didn’t identify them.
The Twelve Tribes movement, founded in Tennessee in the 1970s, is a handful of self-governing communities that run small farms in several U.S. states, France, Spain and elsewhere. Its members live together, share possessions in common and believe in a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible, according to the group’s website, which was offline Tuesday.
The group, which also operates a deli in Boulder, didn’t respond to a voice mail Monday seeking comment.
The community’s web site shows the group’s Boulder location near the fire’s suspected starting point, along Marshall Road and state highway 93. In a widely circulated video online purporting to show the fire’s origin, a shed in the area can be seen engulfed in flames, the smoke blown sideways by the wind. Pelle said at a separate briefing Sunday that investigators didn’t know whether the fire started at the shed or somewhere nearby.
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