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Marshall Fire

Resources: What to do about insurance, unemployment, prescriptions and more after Marshall fire

Where to find evacuation services and more as grass fires destroy homes in Boulder County

Smoke from the Marshall Fire seen from Interstate 25 on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2021. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The wind-fueled Marshall fire tore through more than 6,200 acres of Boulder County, destroying at least 991 structures and damaging 127 more. At least eight people were injured, and two people are missing and presumed dead.

As tens of thousands of people in unincorporated Boulder County, Louisville and Superior deal with displacement, damage and other losses, we’ve compiled a list of resources for victims of the devastating fire and for those who want to help.

This post will be updated as we get new information. If you have a resource you would like to share, email thy@coloradosun.com.

The latest on evacuation orders, reopening information

Most of Louisville and Superior have opened to residents. Some locations will require an ID to return.

If you don’t have identification, resident passes will be issued by the Louisville Police Department from a base at Ascent Community Church, 555 McCaslin Blvd.

Click here to view a map from the Boulder Office of Emergency Management showing existing closures and areas that have opened up to residents. You can also search your address to see its closure status.

Officials are also asking residents returning home to:

  • Drive slowly and watch for hazards on and along the road, like downed trees or unstable structures
  • Limit driving to daylight hours and remain in and around home
  • Be aware that piles of ash and burned rubble may still be hot or hazardous
  • Homes may not have natural gas
  • Residents in many areas must boil water before consumption
  • If you don’t have heat, consider draining pipes to avoid damage during freezing weather
  • If you lost power, the food in your fridge may be spoiled and should be disposed

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also opened a disaster recovery center at 1755 South Public Road in Lafayette, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Resources at the FEMA recovery center include:

  • Food and water
  • Information on short- and long-term shelter
  • Mental health care
  • Assistance for filing insurance claims
  • Assistance to replace personal records and ID
  • Coronavirus vaccinations

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management is asking residents NOT to return to home until evacuation orders are lifted because of downed power lines and other hazards.

>> The agency is coordinating communications regarding evacuations, wildfire updates and information for residents. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest information about your neighborhood or sign up to get emergency alerts

Resources

This list will be updated as we learn of more resources available to those affected by the Marshall fire destruction. If you have something to add, please email newsroom@coloradosun.com

Shelters and housing assistance

>> Volunteers have compiled a spreadsheet of people willing to provide shelter and other assistance here.

>> The Colorado Apartment Association has created a housing directory to help displaced residents find vacant rental units available for immediate move-in.

>> The Boulder Area Rental Housing Association has a list of available vacancies.

>> The Salvation Army is providing meals three times a day to evacuees and first responders. Check their website for locations or to donate. 

Water, electricity and utilities

Water: Residents of Louisville, Superior, Sans Souci Community mobile home park and customers of the East Boulder County Water District and Eldorado Artesian Spring District should use bottled water or boil tap water before consumption.

That means boiling your water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until you receive notice that the water is safe.

Water in those communities may have germs that could make you sick. Municipalities switched to untreated water to free up resources to battle the wildfire.

  • Louisville: As of Jan. 3, the city estimates homes and businesses will have potable water restored by Jan. 9. As workers flush out pipes, water will be flowing into streets and people should look out for ice in cold conditions. Free bottled water and bulk water (bring your own container) is available at the Louisville Recreation & Senior Center, 900 W. Via Appia, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bottled water is also available at the Louisville Public Library, 951 Spruce St, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Superior: As of Jan. 3., the town estimates potable water service will be restored by Jan. 7.

>> Electricity and gas service: Power was knocked out and natural gas was also shut off across burn areas to limit hazards during the wildfire.

The company has been making daily updates and said most customers who are able to have electricity restored have their power back. They estimate natural gas service will be restored to most people by the end of Tuesday.

The company will post updates on repairs at xcelenergy.com or on the company’s Facebook page.

>> Free electric heaters are available to Xcel customers at the Red Cross shelter at the Lafayette YMCA at 2800 Dagny Way or the Boulder YWCA at 2222 14th St. (UPDATE, 1/4/2022: All heaters have been distributed)

>> People who do not have heat should take the following precautions:

  • Collect water in clean containers for drinking, before draining pipes to avoid freezing
  • Leave faucets on a slow drip to protect pipes from freezing
  • Use a fireplace or wood stove if you have one, and make sure chimneys and flues are unobstructed for proper ventilation
  • Do not use outdoor barbecues, kerosene or camping heaters to heat your home, as they emit carbon monoxide.

Trash removal

>> Boulder County has set up large dumpsters for disposing of spoiled food and water-damaged items. Do not bring fire-related debris, ash, electronics or hazardous waste. A list of locations is available here.

Mail and documentation

>> Residents impacted by the fires can pick up mail from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at the Louisville Post Office, 566 S. McCaslin Boulevard.

>> The FEMA disaster recovery center in Lafayette, 1755 South Public Road, can provide assistance with replacing documents.

>> You can contact the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse for assistance by calling
303-335-1045 for staff in Boulder, 970-372-3971 for staff in Fort Collins and 202-225-2161 for staff in Washington, D.C.

Pets and large animals 

>> Report missing animals to Boulder County or request a rescue by filling out a form at this link.

>> The Humane Society of Boulder has a listing of animals brought to them during the wildfire.

>> An independent Facebook group has been set up for people searching for lost pets and for those who want to help locate animals. Another Facebook group helps horse owners relocate their animals.

>> The Boulder County Fairgrounds, an evacuation site for large animals, is currently full.

>> There are two alternative evacuation sites for large animals. Those sites are not shelters for residents. 

  • Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. 6th Ave. Frontage Rd. in Golden
  • The Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle, Suite 100, Loveland

Mental health resources

Mental health counselors are available at each official evacuation center. The following resources are also available:

  • Colorado Crisis Services, which you can call at 1-844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255, to speak  with a professional counselor about any area where you need support
  • Jewish Family Services Boulder County Crisis Counseling, which offers up to $500 towards five individual counseling sessions from a pool of licensed providers (max of $100 per session), or up to $875 towards five family counseling sessions (max of $175 per session)
  • I Matter, which offers free mental health sessions, mostly telehealth sessions, to youth in the state
  • Mental Health Partners, which offers counseling and other services, will be closed to outpatient services on Jan. 3 and reopen on Jan. 4. Call at 303-443-8500
  • National Disaster Helpline, which you can call at 1-800-985-5990

>> Boulder County also has some advice on dealing with mental health issues after a wildfire.

Prescription refills

If you evacuated your home without prescription medications, you should be able to get an early refill because of the statewide emergency, according to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

The Colorado Division of Insurance has asked health insurance companies to waive prior authorization for prescription refills or medical equipment for people in fire-affected areas, according to an advisory from HCPF. The division also asked companies to waive prior authorization, utilization review, or medical necessity determinations for patients transferred and discharged because of the fire.

The health care agency has issued the following guidance:

  • Call the number on the back of your health insurance card or prescription drug plan and inform them of your circumstance and why you need an early refill
  • Call the Division of Insurance for help with insurance questions at 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 if you are outside of the Denver metro area. You can also email DORA_Insurance@state.co.us
  • If you have Medicare, you should call your plan and request a refill at a network pharmacy. It may cost more to pick up the refill at an out-of-network pharmacy
  • If you have Health First Colorado and your medication was destroyed, damaged or is inaccessible, the plan will cover any refills. Contact your pharmacy as soon as possible as some medications may need prior authorizations. HCPF has authorized its pharmacies to dispense an emergency, 72-hour supply if necessary
  • If you cannot return home or are unsure of how long you will be displaced, request an extended supply of 60 to 90 days

>> Click here to read the full advisory.

Insurance questions

The division has also posted some advice for homeowners, renters and businesses seeking to file claims with their insurance over wildfire damage and losses. View the full bulletin on the department’s website.

You can also call 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 for people outside of the Denver metro area to speak with a member of the agency’s Consumer Service Team.

Click here to watch a Jan. 4 virtual town hall with staff from the Division of Insurance.

>> State Farm, as of early Jan. 2, said that more than 700 claims have been received for house and auto damage related to the fires. The insurer advises customers to call their local agent (or 1-800-SFCLAIM) or file it at statefarm.com/claims or text the word “CLAIM” to 62789. More tips:

  • Document temporary repairs made to prevent further property damage
  • Save receipts for items used in repairs, like tarps and plywood
  • Take pictures of the home’s damage, inside and out, as safe to do so
  • If forced to evacuate, save receipts for living expenses like lodging, food and pet boarding. Coverage may be available, subject to the deductible
  • If damage is so extensive that the residence is uninhabitable, then “Additional Living Expenses” coverage may be available.

Job resources, unemployment available

>> Emergency jobless benefits are available to those who’ve become unemployed or now face interuptions as a self-employed individual as a direct result of the Marshall Fire in Boulder county. File an unemployment insurance claim HERE.

>> WeWork coworking spaces in the Denver and Boulder area are offering their office spaces as complementary temporary work spaces for those displaced by the fires. Email SupportCO@WeWork.com for details. Locations include:

Applying for federal aid

>> Aid for individuals: People impacted by the Marshall fire can apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program.

People without rental or home insurance are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Call your insurance agent before applying for federal assistance
  • Apply for FEMA assistance online or by calling 1-800-621- 3362

>> Aid for businesses: Businesses of all sizes, as well as private nonprofit organizations, can apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration.

That includes loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Loans are also available to cover the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize damage from future disasters.

In order to be considered, contact FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov. Additional information and details is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.

>> Foreclosure and mortgage relief: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing relief to people impacted by the Boulder County fires, including foreclosure relief and insurance for mortgages, home rehabilitation or rebuilding.

Click here to read more about HUD resources for victims of the fire.

How you can donate

State officials say evacuation centers are overwhelmed with donations and volunteers. Official sites are no longer taking donations. Instead, they are directing people to make monetary donations through the Boulder County Community Foundation.

Other funds you can donate to:

>> Sign up to volunteer at https://coloradoresponds.communityos.org. You can also sign up to donate shelter through Airbnb.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Updates

>> Sign up for emergency alerts in your county here.

>> The Colorado Sun has compiled a Twitter list of government agencies, journalists and other organizations on the ground sharing information about the Marshall fire.