Inside Twelve Tribes, the Fundamentalist Christian Group at the Center of the Colorado Wildfire Investigation

Last week, a Colorado wildfire that will likely be among the costliest and most destructive in the state’s history forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents of Boulder County. Now, police say a fundamentalist Christian sect is at the center of an investigation into what started the blaze.

A piece of property owned by Twelve Tribes is the subject of the probe into the fire. Twelve Tribes started out as a Chattanooga, Tennessee, youth group in the 1970s, but has since morphed into a network of communities across the U.S., South America, Europe and Australia. The groups are self-governing, with a focus on extremely strict interpretation of and obedience to Old and New Testament commandments. Men usually have long beards and women dress very traditionally.

What does any of this have to do with the blaze that destroyed over 900 homes and sent 35,000 people fleeing for their lives? Well, it’s not entirely clear. Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County told reporters that the investigation is still far too early to determine what, if anything, the fire had to do with Twelve Tribes. “We’re going to take our time and be methodical because the stakes are huge,” Sheriff Pelle said, according to the New York Times.

Video on social media appeared to pinpoint the fire’s beginnings at a shed on property owned by Twelve Tribes. Several witnesses have told authorities they saw the fire begin near the shed. Twelve Tribes confirmed that they were aware of an investigation.

Scroll To Top