LOVELAND, Colo. — A woman who owns a standing house is choosing not to return home after the Marshall Fire over concerns about smoke damage and the impacts it could have on her health.
Victoria Hart lives in Louisville. Her home is about 250 feet away from the nearest home that was destroyed next to her. She was lucky enough that the flames did not reach her home, and it is still standing.
Despite that, Hart and her husband have chosen to live in a short-term rental in Loveland over their concerns about the smoke damage and potential impact it could have on her health.
“I stand in full gratitude that I have a house, but it’s not a home. I don’t have a home to go to,” said Hart.
Hart has medical complications that include a past cancer battle, asthma and other chronic illnesses. She says that she can’t spend more than an hour in her home.
She and her husband have tried to make claims with their insurance to clean the home properly. Her insurance will only pay for surface cleaning and to shampoo her carpet, as well as replacement of attic insulation. Hart would like them to replace the carpet, curtains and other soft textiles in her home.
“To be in limbo and not be able to go home is particularly difficult and not to feel like you could ever go home, if you don’t get remediated correctly. That is a fear that I have,” said Hart.
Hart says it’s been difficult to watch those around her lose their homes.
“It’s really heartbreaking to see my community in so much distress,” said Hart. “It’s very hard.”
At the same time, she feels like her concerns aren’t being addressed.
“God, my heart is with them, but we are suffering in a different way,” said Hart. “It’s not going to be okay for me to return until every part of my house is addressed.”
While she fights with her insurance to cover more than what they are offering right now, she and her husband plan to stay in a temporary house.
“I’m worried about how long that is going to be,” said Hart.
While Victoria still doesn’t feel comfortable, there are others in her neighborhood who have returned and do feel safe. She says it really comes down to her medical concerns and history.
For those in Victoria’s situation, there is little funding available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other resources. She has created a GoFundMe to help alleviate some of the costs of the rental, as well as the remediation that may not be covered by insurance.