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Owners of cat who survived Marshall Fire feel gratitude—and guilt

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Tracy Granucci and her cat, Peanut.

SUPERIOR, Colo. — On December 30, 2021, Tracy Granucci and her husband Jason had just landed in Cabo San Lucas to enjoy a vacation with family. Back at their home in Superior, Colorado, they had arranged for a cat sitter to come every day to look after their 16-year-old cat, Peanut. She would be safest at home — or so they thought.

“We were sitting at lunch and all of a sudden our phones are going crazy,” recalled Granucci. “We heard about this grass fire.”

Granucci said at first, they didn’t take the texts too seriously, thinking their suburban Coal Creek Crossing neighborhood would be safe from any flames.

“We didn’t know the magnitude until they said that these winds were hitting [the Sagamore subdivision], which we know is right next to us,” Granucci said.

Her mind immediately went to Peanut, and through texts with her cat sitter, Carol, as well as friends and family, Granucci tried to figure out a way to get her cat to safety. In a text to Carol, Granucci wrote, “I don’t care about the house - obviously Peanut is all I care about.”

Colorado Voices

Peanut the cat is rescued

Granucci even contacted Boulder County Animal Control to see if someone at the agency could rescue Peanut, but at the height of the fires the department wasn’t able to respond for hours.

Feeling helpless, Granucci and her family anxiously awaited news from Mexico.

The next morning, December 31, Granucci’s brother-in-law Rick Carollo decided to visit the area to see if he could access the home.

“We couldn’t tell on [Governor] Polis’ fly-by if the house had been burned,” Carollo explained. “So we decided to come over here, walk in [the neighborhood], and take a look.”

With many roads blocked off, Carollo parked near the Regal Cinebarre movie theater and walked about a mile to the Coal Creek Crossing neighborhood. He was amazed and relieved to see the Granucci home still standing. Four homes right beyond the house’s backyard were totally destroyed.

“The destruction to the four houses that I saw was complete. They had been burned to the foundation,” Carollo said. “The other houses are intact…we were lucky.”

In total, the Marshall Fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes. Two people are feared dead, though officials have not released their identities yet.

Back home after cutting the vacation short, Granucci looked out her back window, surveying the damage. She shook her head in disbelief.

“You don’t know why you were spared. The cat was laying right there,” she said, pointing to the living room behind her, “and the fire was right there.”

A row of destroyed homes in Superior, as seen from Granucci's patio.

Survivors of the Marshall Fire have their own battle ahead.

“The feelings I’ve had about being in our home and looking out at our neighbors and our community is definitely … survivor's guilt,” Granucci said with tears in her eyes. “All you want to do is you want to help everybody.”

While they were stuck in Cabo San Lucas with little means to help, Granucci created an Instagram page for Peanut, hoping maybe she could use that as a way to raise money for victims. “Maybe we can get photos of her out there, t-shirts, anything…if there’s any way we can help, I want to be there,” she said.

Many pets did not survive the Marshall Fire. The Boulder County Humane Society is updating its website with a list of missing pets. The humane society is also providing shelter to pets from families who needed to evacuate their homes, as well as pet food and supplies. More information is available here.

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