The terror and destruction of the Marshall Fire on December 30th in Boulder County is hard to describe. It started out of nowhere and moved so quickly, and was so unexpected in December, that everyone was caught on their heels. The information during the day – when 34,000 residents of Louisville and Superior, CO were evacuated – and throughout that night was so limited that no one really know exactly where the fire was or where it was moving toward or what exactly was burning – until we did, and we knew where homes were burning and how many were on fire and how many of us were so devastatingly affected by it.
The next day we all began to wrap our heads around photos that showed entire neighborhoods reduced to ashes. We all knew homes in those photos – some of us knew the families who used to live in those homes, some of us were the families that used to live in those homes. Over 1,000 homes were lost in total – it was a darkness that we hadn’t chosen, that had sparked and spread and taken without warning.
As we started to process that darkness, light began to appear through the smoke that rose from the still smoldering ashes. Stories were shared within our 80027 / Louisville & Superior, CO Facebook group of hope and goodness and bravery and we remembered that sometimes the darkness is there to show us the light. Here are a few of those stories:
Dog Tag is a fabulous dog kennel located in one of the first areas of Superior threatened by the fire. Being a holiday week, the kennel was full. When the evacuation order hit, they had to leave so quickly that they were unable to evacuate the dogs. Out-of-town families were frantically posting photos and begging the community for help, and our community came through! At 3am on December 31st, this post popped up: “ALL DOGS HAVE BEEN FOUND AND ARE EITHER REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES OR HAVE A WARM BED TO SLEEP IN TONIGHT! Thank you all for your hard work, 15 hours later we successfully have all 40 dogs accounted for. Could not have done it without the amazing community. “
This story of bravery is a shortened version of what was shared in the group: “There were houses in flames and exploding with fire in hurricane force winds. A firestorm. Nearby were large trailers full of compressed liquid natural gas being hooked up as portable power to repower a water treatment plant that had lost power to provide water to fight the fire. A bomb, on a trailer, to power water, to save lives and homes, in the middle of an active firestorm. Louisville Water Treatment staff ran into flames and active firestorms to keep water supplies going for Louisville and Superior to keep water flowing and save lives and homes. No one realized water production ran out in Superior due to power failure, Louisville connected to Superior and provided water to fight the peak of the fight when nothing was left, and the water supply almost ran out. The fire was almost lost and more destruction would have taken place without their dedication.”
There are also incredible stories of individual kindness and generosity and there’s no way to capture them all. There is a woman who cooks a massive batch of dinners every day, just for anyone who needs one: “Tonight’s home cooked meal will be beef stroganoff, green beans and a dinner roll. I will be dishing up individual meals, so please let me know how many you would like and what time you would like to pick up.” There are posts every day from local restaurants that are providing meals for anyone affected by the fire: “We will be cooking again tomorrow. We are planning to prepare around 150 meals, along with meals for Louisville Police. They will be available for pick up from 4 PM till it lasts.” And there are people from outside our community who want us to know that they are hurting right alongside us: “Our son had a hockey game today and in such a generous act of kindness, the opposing team gave ours a gift card to replace hockey equipment for families impacted by the fire.”
Finally, the list of the departments and agencies who helped to fight the Marshall Fire is just staggeringly long, and we are incredibly grateful for them:
Adams County Fire Rescue, Allenspark Fire Protection District, AMR Boulder, American Red Cross, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Team, Arvada Fire Protection District, Aurora Fire Rescue, Banner Health Paramedics, Bennett-Watkins Fire Rescue, Berthoud Fire Protection District, Beulah Fire Protection District, Big Elk Fire, Black Forest Fire Protection District, Boulder County Fire Management, Boulder County HazMat Authority, Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, Boulder County Parks & Open Space, Boulder County Sheriff, Boulder Emergency Squad, Boulder Fire-Rescue Department, Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District, Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, Boulder Police Department, Boulder Rural Fire Rescue, Brighton Fire Rescue District, Broomfield Police Department, Brush Volunteer Fire Department, Buckley Space Force Fire and Emergency Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Byers Fire District, Castle Rock Fire & Rescue, Centennial Valley Volunteer FD (WY), Crook Fire Department, Coal Creek Fire Protection District, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Colorado Department of Transportation-CDOT, Colorado National Guard, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Cortez Fire Protection District, Denver Fire Department, Durango Fire Protection District, East Orchard Mesa Fire District, Elk Creek Fire Protection District, Eaton Fire District, Erie Police, Estes Park Police, Estes Valley Fire Protection District, Evans Fire District, Evergreen Fire Protection District, Fairmount Fire Protection District, Falck Rocky Mountain, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florissant Fire Protection District, Foothills Fire Protection District, Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District, Fort Lupton Fire Protection District, Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department, Four Mile Fire Protection District, Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District, Front Range Fire Rescue, Galeton Fire District, Genesee Fire Protection District, Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department, Gilpin Ambulance, Golden Fire Department, Greeley Fire Department, Highland Rescue Team Ambulance District, Hudson-Lochbuie Fire District, Hygiene Fire Protection District, Indian Hills Fire Protection District, Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District, Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District, Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department, Jefferson County Fire Management, Jefferson County Sheriff, Lafayette Fire Department, Lafayette Police Department, Laramie County Fire Authority (WY), Larkspur Fire Protection District, Lefthand Fire Protection District, Longmont Emergency Unit, Longmont Fire Department, Longmont Police Department, Louisville Fire Protection District, Louisville Police Department, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Lyons Fire Protection District, Manitou Springs Volunteer Fire Department, Med Evac, Mesa County Sheriff Wildland Fire Team, Morgan County Ambulance, Mountain View Fire Rescue, Nederland Fire Protection District, New Raymer – Stoneham Fire Protection District, Northglenn Ambulance, North Fork Fire Protection District, North Metro Fire Rescue District, Oak Creek Fire Protection District, Pinewood Springs Fire Protection District, Platte Canyon Fire Protection District, Platte Valley Fire Protection District, Poudre Fire Authority, Pueblo Fire Department, Pueblo Rural Fire Protection District, Pueblo West Fire Department, Rapid City Fire (S.D.), Sable Altura Fire Rescue, South Adams County Fire Department, South Metro Fire Rescue, Stadium Medical, Strasburg Fire District, Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District, Sunshine Fire Protection District, Team Rubicon, Thornton Fire Department, Timberline Fire Protection District, Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, U.S. Forrest Service, Vail Fire Department, West Douglas County Fire Protection District, West Metro Fire Rescue, Westminster Fire Department, Westminster Police Department, Wiggins Fire District, Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue, Xcel Energy, Yoder FD(WY) & many other agencies including law enforcement who responded to this disaster.