BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The Community Foundation of Boulder County said Tuesday they've approved a grant to begin immediately dispersing $5 million in direct aid to those impacted by the Marshall Fire last week. That is just a portion of the $12 million donated to the wildfire relief fund.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses could take weeks or months, officials said at a news conference Monday.
Two people were missing, 991 structures were destroyed and 127 were damaged along with 6,026 acres burned in the wildfire that started Thursday in Boulder County. The perimeter of the fire is 100% contained, but there are still hot spots within the fire area, the incident management team said Monday.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said investigators – including those from federal agencies – were working on the cause and origin of the fire and have not eliminated or honed in on any one thing. He said property near Colorado 93 and Marshall Road owned by a religious sect called the Twelve Tribes is part of the investigation, as is the area around it.
He and Gov. Jared Polis said the investigation could take time.
"We're going to be methodical because the stakes are huge," he said.
"What's most important is getting it right, whether it takes a week, a month or two months," Polis said.
Pelle didn't give an update on the number of properties destroyed, which he had said on Saturday was not final but was likely close to the final total:
- Louisville – 553 destroyed, 45 damaged
- Superior – 332 destroyed, 60 damaged
- Unincorporated Boulder County (primarily west of Superior towards Marshall and El Dorado Springs) – 106 destroyed, 22 damaged
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, all hard and soft closures were lifted for the Town of Superior and unincorporated Boulder County with the exception of South 76th Street which remains closed between Marshall Road and Sycamore Street.
Although closures have been lifted, the areas will be signed for residents only and will be patrolled. There are no changes to evacuation status in Louisville.
Victim Advocates will be available on Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Town of Superior Community Center located at 1500 Coalton Road.
Boulder County said people in the following soft closure areas are allowed to return to their homes as of 6 p.m. Wednesday:
- Spanish Hills
- Original Town excluding Sagamore Subdivision
- Superior Marketplace and businesses within this area on the west side of McCaslin Blvd -- accessible to employees and contractors only.
- Downtown Superior and Discovery Park residents are allowed to return. Businesses in this area east of McCaslin Blvd will remain under a hard closure with the exception of Sports Stable and Urgent Care, which will be open to the public.
Some residents may see colored cards on structures when they return home, according to officials. There are two colors of placards. Orange means LIMITED ENTRY/RESTRICTED USE, and Red means UNSAFE. Anyone who has a placard on their home and has questions should call the phone number on the card to talk to the Building department in their jurisdiction.
Louisville Police Chief Dave Hayes said residents in that city who want to enter "soft closure" areas can go to Ascent Community Church at 550 McCaslin Blvd. to receive an access pass to get past roadblocks.
Residents returning home to find spoiled food or water-damaged items can drop those off at dumpsters at central locations in Louisville and Superior.
There may also not be potable water at many locations, so as residents return they're asked to prepared with bottled water on hand for all their needs.
Pelle said crews are still attempting to find two missing people.
"It's very difficult work, given the debris, the heat, essentially working by hand with small tools," he said.
Any residents who returns to the area and see possible signs that suspicious activity has occurred should call the tipline at 303-441-3674. If suspicious activity is currently occurring, call 911 or the non-emergency line at 303-441-4444.
The perimeter of the fire can be seen in the map below.
Louisville boil order
The city of Louisville remains under a boil order. Free bottled water is available at the recreation center.
Officials hope to restore service to allow safe drinking water by Sunday.
There are food trucks at the recreation center providing complimentary food to affected residents and first responders.
More information can be found here: Louisvilleco.gov/marshallfire
An emergency call center for Boulder County residents is at 303-413-7730. This phone line is primarily for evacuees in need of assistance.
The county also has a website set up with information on assistance at boco.org/marshallfire.
The Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette.
At the center, residents can talk with insurance agents, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other government and nonprofit groups. The center can also provide gift cards for food and necessities, and lodging vouchers.
More than $12 million has already been donated to the Boulder County Wildfire fund through the Community Foundation of Boulder County, according to CEO Tatiana Hernandez. She said that money came from more than 43,000 donors.
"On Sunday, our board approved a grant to Boulder County to begin immediately dispersing up to $5 million in direct financial assistance to those whose homes have been destroyed or damaged and are in financial need," Hernandez said. "The Board also approved up to $500,000 in direct financial assistance to evacuees in need."
That money is being distributed through the DAC, which officials described as a one-stop-shop to get all kinds of resources. The amount of aid available varies by family size and need, according to Henandez.
She urged everyone to come by there so the county can have a better understanding of current and future needs.
The foundation is in the process of establishing an advisory committee that will make recommendations to the board on how funds will be spent moving forward. The committee will include representatives from Superior and Louisville and should be up and running by Friday, Hernandez said.
At this time, officials asked people not to bring any physical donations such as clothing or toiletries to Boulder County because they simply do not have the space to put them right now.
"We will be having a nonprofit setting up a donation site where you can drop all of those items off, where they'll be made free and available to anyone who was affected," said Joycelyn Fankhouser, an emergency manager in Boulder County.
Once that location is up and running, Fankhouser said they would get the word out.
Xcel Energy said all customers whose properties can accept electric service have had service restored, or that work is underway. If a crew is not already working on your outage and you would like to receive service, you're asked to contact Xcel to have your power restored.
Xcel said they have restored service to 10,000 of the approximately 13,000 customers who lost natural gas service.
Xcel said the repair and restoration work has been divided into nine regions. As of Monday night, natural gas has been reintroduced to the system in all nine regions. Crews are going door-to-door to relight pilot lights in homes that are not under an evacuation order. Customers who are not home at the time will receive a door tag with information on how to get their relight completed. That information is also available on Xcel's website.
Comcast said their crews have been working in the evacuation zones since Saturday and have restored service to 40% of customers, with more expected to regain service later Monday and Tuesday.
Park-n-Ride vehicle pickup
In the wake of the Marshall Fire, vehicles have remained parked at RTD’s US 36 and McCaslin Park-n-Ride. RTD said customers can now access the area to retrieve their vehicles.
They must enter the area at the corner of McCaslin Boulevard and Marshall Road.
Parking is allowed in the immediate vicinity, and people should be prepared to temporarily surrender a driver’s license or another form of identification to National Guard troops to be granted entrance.
Customers must leave the area using the same location they entered it, and will have their ID returned as they leave.
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