COLORADO, USA — Many families lucky enough to still have a house after the Marshall Fire are still unable or unwilling to return home. Though their homes are still standing, many have smoke damage and ash and require mitigation or cleaning before it's safe to come back.
It's been a busy few weeks for smoke mitigation and home restoration companies working in Louisville and Superior neighborhoods near the fire zone.
“We’re working more than 200 homes at this point in time,” said Doug Squire, Senior Project Manager for Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Denver. “We probably take, I would say, about 30-40 calls a day regarding some of these [fire] situations.”
It's busy enough that larger companies have called in help from other franchises out of state.
Squire said houses have a variety of smoke damage or debris, usually depending on the home’s proximity to nearby homes that were destroyed. He said some need minimal cleaning; others are bigger jobs.
And many homes near the fire had some level of smoke infiltration in the attic.
“The attic is a whole different situation,” he said. “Insulation needs to come out. We extract that installation, we clean the attic by HEPA [high efficiency particulate air] vacuuming, in some cases we need to seal it, if odor and soot was really heavy.”
Both residents and local officials have been worried about the air quality inside and outside their homes after the Marshall Fire.
Working at a home in Louisville Friday, Squire's team moved through the entire house: using special machinery and filters to clean the air, vacuuming and scrubbing walls and windows, and wiping down every surface and item in the house.
One street away, several homes burned down completely.
“Bottom line is, we need to clean it up. We don’t know what was in [the smoke and debris] when it came into their house.”
Among the cleaning supplies, the family’s Christmas decorations were still on display – a reminder that for many families who evacuated and still haven’t returned home, time stopped the day of the fire.
Squire and his team are used to working with people in difficult, emotional situations in the restoration business. Like so many other Coloradans, he watched news coverage as the Marshall Fire destroyed fellow Coloradan’s homes and blanketed surviving homes with smoke and soot.
“We’re coming into their lives at possibly worst time of their life ever, we’re just trying to make it better for them.”
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Wildfires in Colorado