The Marshall Fire Tragedy and How You Can Help

For those of you who know I live in Boulder County, I am safe and sound. Thank you to those who reached out. I appreciate your concern. I’ve been concerned.

Since I’m in the mountains, these pictures are from other fires.

On fire in Colorado - a bright orange sunset in Boulder county

When checking out Twitter yesterday, I was alarmed when Boulder was trending. The Middle Fork Fire was located directly across the valley from our neighborhood. Since high winds were reported, I frantically scrolled to find up-to-the-second information.

By then, the Marshall Fire had exploded in a high-density neighborhood. 110 MPH winds blew down power lines. Subsequent sparks caused the inferno that engulfed Superior and Louisville south of Boulder. Reporters said that grassfires swept across dry fields at one hundred yards every ten seconds. Think about that…

Since I was in the mountains, I called a neighbor to find out if our neighborhood was safe. I wondered how long it would take to drive home. Would we be evacuated? She walked outside and said that the skies were clear in Niwot but were black in the south.

She said a friend of ours was in Costco when the fire started. In the time it took to get from the building to his car, his eyes burned and his face was black with soot above his mask. Whoa.

The wind velocity in Niwot only hit 70 MPH.

Yep, that’s not bad at all.

This video captured 90 MPH gusts in February 2012. A small fire broke out, but snow lay on the ground.

This is what 90 MPH is like – Another super short video.

Years ago, we lost a 250-pound trampoline to 120 MPH winds. 120! No lie.

I watched from my kitchen window as the tramp lifted once, twice, and then skipped across the backyard and soared like a kite up the block. To see where it landed, I stepped into the backyard, but the wind blasted me. I had to force my way forward. The giant trampoline took a breather in a tree outside a neighbor’s picture window a few doors down.

With projectiles flying sideways, I drove my car around the corner and parked. When I opened the door, the force of the wind nearly ripped it from the frame — The wind ruined other vehicle doors that day, tossed semi-trucks like toys, sheered light fixtures, and blew everything not anchored down to the Land of Oz.

Our new trampoline hung precariously from a limb. The wall of wind velocity kept me from pulling it down. With a knife clutched in my hand, I slashed and hacked the brand new toy like Norman Bates.

Hurricane-force winds are not uncommon for this time of year. But, Boulder County is in an unprecedented severe drought. We’ve had one inch of snow, equal to one-tenth of an inch of rain, so far this season. That combination proved devastating yesterday.

I reached out to several evacuated friends last night. Governor Polis suspects the wildfire incinerated one thousand homes. 1000! People started their return to their properties this afternoon.

UPDATE: My friend’s home near Target was spared. YAY!

A photo from October 2020.

Calwood Fire at 6:49 on October 17 in crimson and blues. the snakes of the fire aglow

We will also find out the fate of several businesses. The Superior Target and Costco shopping center suffered extensive damage. One of my friends is concerned about her husband’s small business on Marshall Road. Livelihoods could be up in smoke too. How will managers, business owners, and their employees make money?

Imagine the mental state of these people. Most left their homes with the clothes on their backs.

While scrolling through the #Marshallfire Twitter feed, I found a great article written by Carolynn Spezza:

How to help those who have lost their homes:

Do not send fire victims a bunch of random crap (my words). Instead, be thoughtful about what you donate. Think about what you would wear, what you would need if you suddenly had NOTHING.

Kids need toys and books.

Gift cards are a lifesaver.

As with most tragedies, it’s TIME that victims value the most. Take a walk with your friend and listen. BUT, don’t tell them how lucky they are to be alive, and they only lost things. Many items cannot be replaced. She says it can take years for some insurance companies to payout. It’s hard if the house next door stands unharmed when yours has turned to ash.

Losing everything is traumatizing.

If you are asked to go through the remains of the fire, realize that it is sacred and solemn ground. “Move slowly,” Spezza says.

Carolynn Spezza offers fifteen tips, so be sure click to her article to find out more.

My husband spoke to a friend who lost his family home to the fire in the October photo above. They only had minutes to evacuate. He suggests, for now, they will need hugs and warmth. In a week, housing and food. In a month, someone to help them process the shock.

Other suggestions included gift baskets filled with prepared food items if requested and donations to LOCAL non-profits. I found the Boulder County Wildfire Fund. They have the infrastructure to handle devastation like this.

Boulder County is a strong community. There will be an outpouring of support initially, but we need to remember that healing from loss can take a long time. We will need to reach out one month, two months, three months from now.

Keep the Marshall Fire victims in your prayers. I will. The first few weeks will be rough. If you would like to make a donation, use the link above.

I hope 2022 is a heck of a lot better.

Happy New Year!

Again, here is the donation site, where your money will be well spent: Boulder County Wildfire Fund

36 thoughts on “The Marshall Fire Tragedy and How You Can Help

Add yours

  1. I have watching the news reports with horror … so glad you and your family are safe. Out here in California we are unfortunately well aware of the danger of wildfires combined with drought and high winds!

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    1. I watched in horror too, Jan. It was insane yesterday. So far, one of the homes I was concerned about was spared. Whew!
      The Boulder-Denver area has broken all kinds of records since August. The snow should help put out the remaining smolders.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, thank goodness you were spared–I have been thinking about–you, but of course am devastated for everyone who has not been so lucky. Thanks for offering thoughts about how we can help.

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  3. Of course I am so glad to know that you are safe, Suzie, and I really appreciate an update from your very local perspective. When I first started seeing reports yesterday I could barely grasp the intensity and the scale. As I sit safely in my home tonight I am very mindful of the grief and loss that so many people are experiencing as they face a very unknown future. They will be in my prayers, and yes, donations are a must! I’m sure the Red Cross and other relief agencies will welcome donations targeted directly to the Marshall Fire victims. Again, thank you for this important update.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Debra.

      I have been told by others, who have already been through this, to stick with local organizations since they are nonprofits and know the community.

      Two of my friends lost their homes. One had to leave their dog behind since it ran off when the police arrived. I can’t imagine.

      They appreciate our prayers. Thanks again!

      Like

  4. Immediately thought of you and am glad to hear you are spared. I’m sharing your information to help those less fortunate. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2022.

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  5. We have all been thinking of you, your family, and others in the Boulder area, hoping you were safe. In June of 2020 we had the Big Horn Fire, but no loss of homes like Boulder County. Thanks for the update. Continue to stay safe and healthy.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kenne. We consider ourselves very lucky since it has been so dry and the other fire was put out so quickly. I have to get serious about my photos and plan to put the negatives in a fire file.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ingrid. It is hard to wrap my mind around the loss. Two of my friends lost their homes. We will drive by the affected areas tomorrow, if the highway is open.

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  6. Thanks for the update.
    Your little pond may become sanctuary for desperate wildlife.
    Hard to image the wind strength if you haven’t witnessed it.
    It may be flames instead of fire, but winds and damage similar. That’s a great article. Socks and underwear – as well as toys, stuff animals, and blankets head the most requested list here after hurricanes. Who haven’t been in disasters realize that it will take months and months to stabilize – and that the media and general public moves on quickly.
    Lesson from disaster pasts here, the Boulder County fund is probably your best way to help – donate locally to make sure relief gets to the area that needs it…if you donate to Red Cross, you must designate/write that it is only for CO Marshall Fire victims…not those else where. Trust me on this.
    And hang on to Roxie! Wind and beast more hungry than usual.
    Take care. solid post. Many all find safe harbor and a place to rest.

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  7. Oh my gosh Suzie, this is absolutely devastating to those impacted. My husband saw this on the news & when he told me where it was located, I immediately thought of you & your family. So good to hear you are safe my friend. Received your beautiful card in the mail this week. I shall treasure it!

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  8. You and your state/city have been in my thoughts and prayers. Glad to hear you are safe 🙂 Boy between a pandemic and mother nature at times it seems like too much to handle. Take Care

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