LOUISVILLE — President Joe Biden embraced and consoled survivors of the Marshall fire during a visit to the Boulder County burn area Friday, vowing to use the full power of the federal government to help people affected by the blaze.
“We’re here with you,” he said during a speech at the Louisville Recreation Center. “We’re not going to go away. We’re going to do everything we possibly can.”
Biden was led by Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle as he walked through a neighborhood near Harper Lake in Louisville. Every home on the street the president toured was destroyed in the Dec. 30 firestorm.
The president embraced some survivors and engaged with them in long conversation.
“It’s as devastating as it looks on television,” he said. “It’s as devastating as the many environmental crises I’ve seen in the last year. There’s nothing so frightening, in my view, as a fire. Fire, I think, is the most frightening of all the elements.”
Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill Biden, also greeted first responders who battled the 6,000-acre Marshall fire that consumed more than 1,000 homes. Two people are believed to have been killed in the blaze.
Dozens of people lined Via Appia Way in Louisville to welcome the president. The crowd cheered when fire trucks and ambulances in his motorcade passed by.
Biden said the people of Boulder County are courageous and resilient.
“Hang on to one another,” Biden said during his speech. “The way you’re going to get through this, because we’ve been through a few things ourselves, is just hang on to on another. You will get through this and you’ll be stronger for it.”
The president, who did not speak to reporters during his visit, nodded to the effects of climate change during his speech. He briefly touted the climate provisions in his stalled Build Back Better Act.
“These fires are being supercharged,” he said.
The Bidens were accompanied by U.S. Sens. Bennet and John Hickenlooper, as well as Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, whose district includes the neighborhoods destroyed by the fire.
Neguse said Colorado’s congressional delegation stressed to Biden that Superior and Louisville, the two towns hardest hit by the fire, need federal money to rebuild.
“We spent a great deal of time talking to the president about the need for federal resources,” Neguse said.“The president is incredibly empathetic. For him to be able to visit first hand with the families and hear from them — that was very important.”