1 dead, 2 missing after flood sweeps through Poudre Canyon, outside Fort Collins

One person has died, and another two are missing after the Poudre Canyon flooded Tuesday night. Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith confirmed that authorities had located a body on his Facebook page.

Smith said officials did not recover the body on Tuesday, but would do so Wednesday once it is safe to cross the Cache la Poudre River.

According to Smith, several structures were destroyed or damaged along Black Hollow Road about 35 miles up from Ted’s Place at the canyon’s mouth. The canyon is northwest of Fort Collins.

Smith said a significant amount of debris washed across Colorado Highway 14, blocking the road. The Colorado Department of Transportation first closed the road around 7 p.m. as the canyon was evacuated. Tuesday and remains closed from County Road 62 and Pingree Road to Cameron Pass, a near 30-mile stretch of road. CDOT says there is no estimated time for reopening as they work to clean up from the flood.

“During this event, we evacuated the canyon — not knowing how this debris might impact persons and property downstream,” Smith wrote. “Mandatory evacuations were lifted later in the evening. However, forecasts for Wednesday include the possibility for similar weather in the coming days. The risk of debris flow damage remains, and we caution any resident or visitors to the canyon to remain vigilant.”

Burn scars from the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire are also affecting the canyon. The wildfire was the largest in state history, scorching 208,663 acres of land.

“I personally witnessed significant debris and damage in the area, caused by downed trees, damaged and destroyed homes and mudflow in the area,” Smith wrote of the flood.

Burn scars are having impacts elsewhere in Colorado. Glenwood Canyon, which hosts Interstate 70 on the western slope, continues to get closed for mudslides caused by rains in the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar area. The latest closure also occurred Tuesday night, and the National Weather Service has warned of increased flooding in burn scar areas as a monsoonal weather pattern takes hold.

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