Colorado Wildfire: Investigation Focuses on Religious Sect Twelve Tribes

by Clayton Edwards
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(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Marshall Wildfire was the most devastating fire that Colorado has ever seen. Last Thursday, hurricane-force winds swept over the state. Some early videos imply that a burning shed caused the blaze. To date, the fires have destroyed nearly one thousand homes and businesses over three cities. Two people are currently missing. Authorities don’t expect to find those people alive. As a result, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is looking into possible causes. They’re casting a wide net to find the cause of the fire. Currently, they’re not ruling out members of a small religious group called Twelve Tribes as culprits.

From some video evidence, it looks like the fire started with a burning shed. Then, 100+ mile per hour winds spread those flames over 6,000 acres. That shed was near a Twelve Tribes compound in rural Boulder County. More specifically, the fire started near Highway 93. That compound is near the highway and Marshall road.

The Investigation Is Underway

According to Denver 7, Boulder County Joe Pelle says the investigation into the fire is in full swing. At this time, he says, they haven’t “eliminated or honed in on” any specific leads. They have served at least one search warrant in connection to the Marshall Fire. However, Pelle wouldn’t say where they served the warrant or what, if any, information it provided. It is possible that they served that warrant on the Twelve Tribes compound. This has not been confirmed.

Sheriff Pelle says they want to make sure they get this investigation right. At this point, the stakes couldn’t be much higher. If it turns out that arson or negligence caused the blaze, someone will be held accountable. However, he noted that the investigation will take time. The sheriff warned members of the press that they were going to “lose patience” with the investigation. “We’re going to do it well and we’re going to take our time and be methodical because the stakes are huge.” So, it could be that the Twelve Tribes community had nothing to do with the Marshall fire. But, the BCSO wants to make sure they cover all bases.

Twelve Tribes: A Brief Overview

According to The Independent, The Twelve Tribes sect describes itself as “an emerging spiritual nation.” They go on to call themselves a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes. Self-governing communities make up those tribes. “By community, we mean families and single people who live together in homes and hon farms. We are disciples of the Son of God, whom we call by his Hebrew name Yashua.”

The FBI, on the other hand, considers the Twelve Tribes a cult. Federal authorities have investigated the group for sexually exploiting children as well as child labor violations. Additionally, the Independent reports that the group’s doctrine is laced with racism and homophobia.  

Currently, the Twelve Tribes website is offline.

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