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Nearly 17 months after devastating Marshall Fire, investigation into cause remains ongoing

The Boulder County sheriff declined to discuss the case and promised an update "soon."

SUPERIOR, Colo. — It’s been nearly 17 months since the Marshall Fire – the most destructive wildfire in state history – and it’s still not clear when the investigation into the cause will be wrapped up.

It was in late December that Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle, in his last weeks in office, said that the investigation was almost complete. While he confirmed earlier reporting by 9Wants to Know showing there were multiple ignition points, he would not shed light on where the investigation was focused or whether anyone could face criminal charges.

Five months later, his successor, Curtis Johnson, declined an interview request from 9Wants to Know to discuss the status of the still-ongoing investigation. His spokeswoman said the office would be issuing an update “soon.”

“Every time that we hear from the sheriff, they're investigating something new, and they'll let us know in two more months,” said fire victim Eric Levinson. “And then we get, they’re investigating something new, they’ll tell us in two more months.”

The Marshall Fire erupted late the morning of Dec. 30, 2021, and raced across Boulder County, fed by hurricane-force winds.

The home that Levinson and his wife, Leslie, built in Superior seven years ago was one of more than 1,000 destroyed in the fire, which also left two people dead. The Levinsons' home was one of eight on their street lost to the flames.

As construction on their new home nears completion – they expect to move in June 23 – Levinson said he remains eager to know what happened.

“We’re excited to move home,” he said Thursday morning during a tour of his nearly complete home. “But the bigger question has always been, you know, what started the fire? And how did it get from its ignition point to us in so quick of a period of time?

“And then, how do we prevent it and move forward – back in our new houses again – and feel safe and comfortable?”

Among the possible ignition points are a fire on property owned by a religious group and a smoldering underground coal mine fire that’s been burning for more than 150 years.

“I wouldn't say it's stressful,” Levinson said. “It's just – there's a lot of curiosity. And I think it would help people feel better – victims of the fire as well as the community – in knowing how this happened, so that everybody can take individual steps, but also, our elected officials can work on reducing the chance of something like this happening again, and coming up with policies and procedures to prevent this type of event from occurring again.”

Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.

More 9NEWS coverage of the Marshall Fire:

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Marshall Fire Coverage  


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