LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — Thousands of trees, debris from five demolished homes and vehicles have littered the Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County after landslides along the Cameron Peak Fire burn scar. One woman has been confirmed deceased, at least three other people, two men and a woman, are still unaccounted for.
The most heavily damaged and concerning area of the flash flooding happened along Highway 14 and Black Hollow Road.
A single-lane wooden bridge is holding back thousands of charred trees from barreling down the Poudre Canyon. The same bridge is also holding back the frame of at least one home from flowing downstream.
Witnesses to the immediate aftermath of the flooding told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas they were not prepared for such dramatic flooding when the rainstorms arrived.
“We could smell it before we even saw anything,” said Jade Wilber, a staff member at Archer’s Poudre River Resort. “You could smell mud in the air, and then we heard this loud rushing sound of the river.”
Wilber recorded as water heaters, roofs, cars and more floated by.
“The water was just black, moving so fast and like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Wilber said. “We saw a cabinet. We saw plywood. We saw hot water heater, a fridge and some chairs just floating down the river. We were just worried about our neighbors.”
David Moore, spokesperson for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, said the deceased woman was found among the debris.
“We are in the process of recovering her body right now. We have been working on that for several hours,” Moore said. “There’s trees everywhere. There’s rocks everywhere. It’s a pretty dangerous recovery.”
Down stream dozens of search and rescue workers were seen watching the banks of the murky river for any trace of the missing people.
“Our search and rescue and dive teams have been searching for those two individuals,” Moore said.
Researchers say flooding and landslides could take place for years to come as the landscape tries to bounce back from the Cameron Peak Fire.
CBS4 saw at least one commercial rafting company still taking guests down the Poudre River, seemingly black-water-rafting. Sediment and debris filled waters splashed on guests as they traveled east.
“It makes you understand the wrath of nature. We were never prepared for anything like this,” Wilber said. “We don’t know what’s next.”
COLORADO FLASH FLOOD HISTORY: More Than 530 Deaths Documented Since 1864