Video published by a local television station showed a cul-de-sac where one house had been destroyed, while the others appeared to be intact. In one neighborhood, a line of about 10 still-smoldering rubble piles was situated next to other houses that appeared to have escaped severe damage.

“I think it’s indicative of our future,” said Laurie Silver, a resident of a nearby suburb who on Friday morning stood near the smoking remnants of her cousin’s townhome in Louisville. “And I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to take it seriously. Maybe, when it directly affects people right where they live.”

Ms. Silver said her cousin had been traveling in Tennessee. His only remaining possessions were what he had packed in his carry-on.

On New Year’s Eve, with the fire mostly contained and an intensifying snowstorm promising to help limit additional damage, displaced residents faced another uncertain night at shelters or in the homes of friends or relatives, some still waiting to learn whether their property had been damaged.

“If our place is smoke damaged, who determines that?” said Ben Sykora, who rushed out of his rental home in Superior, Colo., after grabbing a backup computer hard drive and a couple of changes of clothes. “I don’t want to get thinking too materially, but we’re kind of all waiting, seeing how much is this going to flip our lives upside down. As of right now, we just don’t know.”

Boulder County and surrounding areas on Colorado’s Front Range live with the frequent threat of wildfires, although those concerns have historically been associated more with the summer and autumn months and the forested hillsides west of the cities. Few people were prepared for the sudden onslaught on Thursday.

“You think you’re safe here — these things happen in the mountains,” said Steve Sarin, whose apartment narrowly escaped destruction. “Out here, we think we’re relatively protected from the dangers of wildfires. Yesterday was a big wake-up call.”

Dana Goldstein, Isabella Grullón Paz, Michael Levenson and Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.

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