(DENVER) — Officials have identified the first confirmed casualty of a devastating wildfire in Colorado.
Partial human remains found Wednesday at a home in unincorporated Boulder County destroyed by the Marshall Fire have been identified as Robert Sharpe, 69, “based on DNA analysis and scene circumstances,” the Boulder County Coroner’s Office said in a statement Friday.
The cause and manner of death are still under investigation, the coroner’s office said.
Sharpe was one of two people reported missing in the wake of the wind-fueled wildfire, which began Dec. 30 and forced 35,000 people to evacuate homes across Louisville, Superior and unincorporated Boulder County.
Sharpe was a longtime resident of Boulder who worked in construction, his family said in a statement to ABC Denver affiliate KMGH-TV.
“Robert will be greatly missed by his family and friends,” the family said, remembering him as a naturalist who was concerned with children’s rights. “The total devastation of this event has shocked and impacted so many in the community. Our hearts go out to the many others who have suffered losses.”
Sharpe is survived by three brothers, one sister and “many nieces and nephews,” said the family, who asked that anyone wishing to donate in his memory do so to the Boulder County Wildfire Fund.
A woman from Superior also was reported missing by her family in the fire, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday. The sheriff’s office has not yet provided any updates on that search.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire, which destroyed 1,084 homes and damaged another 149, according to the Boulder Office of Disaster Management.
The investigation and recovery process have been impeded by recent snowfall, the sheriff’s office said this week. Debris in impacted areas, including glass, sharp metal and unstable structures, also continue to pose hazards, officials warned Friday.
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