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Marshall Fire

“It is very, very difficult work”: Search continues for two people missing after Marshall fire

The investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

Homes and vehicles destroyed by Marshall Fire in a neighborhood near Harper Lake in Louisville on Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2021, in Colo. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)
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First responders are using their hands and small tools as they dig through the wreckage of buildings where two people were reported missing after the Marshall fire. 

“It is very, very difficult work given the debris, the heat and essentially working by hand with small tools to try to get through those locations,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said during a news conference Monday. 

He did not provide additional details on the search for the elderly man who was missing in the Marshall area or the woman reported missing in Superior.

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Pelle declined to give an update to the cause of the fire, but said experts, including those from the U.S. Forest Service, continue to investigate. 

“You’re going to lose your patience because it’s going to take a while,” Pelle said. “We’re going to do it well and we’re going to take our time and be methodical because the stakes are huge.” 

Pelle, who previously said the fire likely started at Marshall Road and Colorado 93, said the hunt for answers about what caused it could take “weeks, a month, or two months.”

Inside the burn path, workers continue to assess businesses and homes without electricity, Xcel Energy Colorado President Alice Jackson said. As of Monday afternoon, 400 customers are still without electricity and likely will be unable to receive it, she said. 

Workers are expected to finish their assessment to determine which structures are able to get electricity restored by the end of the day Thursday.

Gas has been turned back on for roughly 5,000 customers, leaving 8,000 still without service as of Monday morning, Jackson said. 

Residents and business owners will be able to return to downtown Superior on Monday afternoon, Pelle said, adding that he is optimistic the Spanish Hills subdivision will also open later in the day. 

Re-entry updates will be posted on Boulder County’s Office Emergency Management’s website.

Starting Tuesday, Louisville residents will be able to get an access pass that will allow them to get past roadblocks and return to their homes. Passes can be obtained at Ascent Community Church at 550 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville Police Chief Dave Hayes said. 

County workers will begin to place dumpsters throughout Superior, Louisville and unincorporated parts of the country for people to dispose of any spoiled food and water-damaged household items they might find when they return home, he said. 

A disaster assistance center, at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.  daily to help provide resources to families affected by the fire, including lodging vouchers and FEMA assistance.

Homes and vehicles destroyed by Marshall Fire in a neighborhood near Harper Lake in Louisville on Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2021, in Colo. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

“This is going to be a long road back for so many families and not just those who directly lost their homes and those whose homes were damaged and those who don’t have a place to work,” Gov. Jared Polis said. 

Those whose workplaces burned in the fire may qualify for emergency-related unemployment and can call the Boulder County Public Call Center for assistance at 303-413-7730.

Polis toured the disaster assistance center and the Red Cross shelter in Lafayette on Monday and said he was moved by the community support shown for people who lost their homes. 

“This outpouring of love and support doesn’t change the fact that families have lost everything they had,” Polis said. 

He commended Louisville and Superior residents for fleeing affected areas quickly, calling it “remarkable” that only two people have been reported missing after Colorado’s most destructive wildfire which quickly raced across 6,200 acres in the matter of hours. 

“When you get a pre-evac or evacuation notice, hop to it,” he said. “Residents of Louisville, Superior and Lafayette did and most of them are with us today and have their most important possession – that’s their life and their health – and they’re committed to work to rebuild.”

Resources for those affected by the fire will be updated at boco.org/marshallfire


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