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How you can help—or get help—after the Marshall Fire
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An aerial view of the damage caused by the Marshall Fire
Credit: Governor Jared Polis.

SUPERIOR, Colo. — Hundreds of Colorado families are just learning they no longer have a home, burned by a fast-moving fire on Dec. 30. 

Hurricane force winds and record dryness in Boulder County led to the start of the Marshall Fire, a fast-moving grass fire that destroyed 1,084 homes and damaged 149 more.

Two people are reported missing and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle says the eight inches of snow are making the searches for them, even with cadaver dogs, very challenging. One missing is a woman from Superior and the other is a man who was in the Marshall area.  

Line of cars picking up free space heaters on Jan. 1 after eight inches of snow fell in the burned areas. 
Photo: Lindsey Ford

How you can help victims

Soon after the fire started, the Community Foundation of Boulder County set up a fund to help those who have been impacted by the fire. On January 11, the organization's CEO Tatiana Hernandez said people have donated $19.5 million to wildfire victims. So far, about $3.8 million have been distributed to 1,400 people. If you're looking to donate to that fundraiser, you can do that here.

You can also donate to the American Red Cross of Colorado. The Boulder OEM asked that people do not drop off any items at police or fire stations or shelters and do not show up at evacuation centers to volunteer, they are being over run. They should instead donate the the aforementioned fundraisers.

If you'd like to volunteer, officials recommend visiting the Colorado Responds website.

Colorado Gives has also set up a special fund to help the victims of this fire. You can find that donation page here. As of January 11, the fundraiser has raised more than $8.4 million.

GoFundMe has established a fundraising page specifically for fire victims, something the platform has done in the past for large fires in California and Oregon. So far, the fundraiser has raised nearly $700,00. You can donate here.

Boulder-based Elevations Credit Union set up a donation page as well.

Those looking to volunteer in the recovery effort can sign up for alerts from Colorado Responds at this link.

If you have shelter to offer to victims, you can sign up to be a vetted host on Airbnb and you will be alerted through the company's Open Homes Program if you are needed.

In a December 31 press conference, Polis said the state is working on short-term housing solutions for fire victims. We will include those details when they are made available.

On Facebook, you can help people reunite with lost pets or help people relocate their horses, here and here.

How to get help

If you evacuated and have questions about the status of your property, call 303-413-7730. Do not call 911. A preliminary list of damage and destroyed homes can be found here.

Evacuation center receives help after Marshall Fire

Food was given out at an evacuation center in Lafayette to those impacted by fires.

There are no longer any homes under hard evacuations. Some areas, which you can see below, are still under "soft evacuation," meaning residents will have to show proof of ID before returning to their property.

The disaster assistance center, which is located at 1755 S Public Rd in Lafayette and helps Marshall Fire victims with things like insurance, emergency unemployment assistance and emergency housing, is closing Saturday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. to in-person services.

Victims will still be able to receive assistance by visiting this link.

"The jointly located federal/state Disaster Recovery Center at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) along with multiple state agencies will continue to operate in the south half of the building. Hours will remain 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily until further notice," Boulder County officials said in a news release.

Since opening Jan. 3, the disaster assistance center has provided $5 million in direct financial assistance and over $30 million in disaster loans, officials said. More than 2,000 households have been helped.

“We are deeply moved by the collaboration we have seen here at the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center,” said Boulder County Housing and Human Services interim co-director Paul Jannatpour in the release. “Teams of people from every one of these organizations have poured heart and soul into responding to our community following the devastation of the Marshall Fire, and while we have a long way to go in recovery, we have a strong foundation from which to begin that work. Our focus will continue to be on helping our neighbors through this unbelievably difficult time.” 

Some transportation assistance is available for those needing it to get to the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center. Call Via Mobility at 303-447-9636 for information. 

Those impacted by the Marshall Fire are encouraged to visit this website for English and this one for Spanishto learn about the recovery process and find out about available resources for which they may qualify

Victims can also go to disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621- FEMA (3362) to find resources

Housing is clearly a major concern, with nearly 1,000 homes destroyed. Polis said the rental housing supply is limited to the point that not every victim will be able to find a place in Boulder County. Some will have to relocate to other counties or perhaps live in an RV for a while, the governor said.

Below are additional resources.

Behavioral Health Resources

  • Colorado Crisis Services : 1 (844) 493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255, to speak  with a professional counselor about any area where you could use support for yourself or a loved one, from loneliness and isolation, to stress, relationship issues, substance use and other common concerns.
  • JFS Boulder County Crisis Counseling: In response to multiple tragic events over the last year, Jewish Family Service and Community Foundation Boulder County have partnered to offer counseling services to Boulder County residents. The program offers up to $500 towards five individual counseling sessions (a maximum of $100 per session), or up to $875 towards five family counseling sessions (a maximum of $175 per session) and provides a pool of licensed providers from which to choose.
  • I Matter: 3 free mental health sessions for any youth in the state, largely available via telehealth.
  • Mental Health Partners: Call (303) 443-8500. MHP outpatient services
  •  are closed Monday, Jan. 3rd and will re open 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4th
  • NationalDisaster Helpline: Call (800) 985-5990

 

Mental health support is also available at each of the evacuation shelters 

Applying for FEMA Assistance

Anyone impacted by the Marshall Fire can apply for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program. Individuals should first call their insurance agents and then apply for federal assistance. Apply for FEMA assistance online or by calling 1-800-621- 3362. If you do not have rental or home insurance, please apply for FEMA assistance.

Applying for U.S. Small Business Administration Assistance (SBA) 

Federal assistance is available from the SBA to businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to two million dollars to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

To be considered for SBA assistance and all forms of federal disaster assistance, survivors must first contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at this website. Additional information and details is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

Insurance Information

If you have been displaced by the fires, contact your insurance agent or company immediately to let them know where you are staying. Not only can they help you with coverage or claims questions, they can help find lodging options as many people in the area will be temporarily displaced.

To find the contact information of your homeowners or auto insurance company go to this website to find insurance company claims filing telephone numbers

Save all receipts for living expenses if you’ve been evacuated or displaced by the fire, as homeowners or renters in these situations typically have insurance coverage for additional living expenses (ALE) which provides them with an amount of out-of-pocket money while evacuated. Check with your insurance company or agent about your coverage. If you are unable to live in your house or apartment because of the fire, most policies will also reimburse you the difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses. Again, check with your insurance company or agent about your coverage.

Start the claim process as soon as you can. For your home, any out buildings and vehicles, you’ll want to contact your insurance company or agent right away to begin the claim process. However, these fires were devastating and many people have been significantly impacted, so the insurance process will take time. 

If possible, and only if it is safe to do so, try to document any damage by taking photos. 

If your home survived the fires, it may still have experienced damage from smoke or water, or to the electrical systems or other damage due to the extreme heat or the snow and cold. As with direct fire damage, contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to start the claims process. 

If you have questions about insurance, contact the Division of Insurance. The Division’s Consumer Services Team will staff the phones and answer emails from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including this weekend and next weekend. While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, the Division can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process. Contact the Consumer Service Team by calling 303-894-7490 / 800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) or emailing DORA_Insurance@state.co.us  or visit our website, doi.colorado.gov.


This is a developing story and will be updated.

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