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Complete strangers offer free stay to Sherpa family after Marshall Fire

The Sherpas met the homeowners for the first time on the day they turned over their house keys.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The measure of a man's worth should not be found in a pile of rubble. The  measure for Karma Sherpa might be found in his homeland of Nepal.

"Our life is important, and then that's when we focus on that," Sherpa said.

He ran Sherpa Mountain Adventures out of his home that once stood in the Sagamore neighborhood – until Dec. 30 and the Marshall Fire.

"So, I wasn't really expecting this thing gonna happen in my life," he said.

Sherpa moved to the United States more than 20 years ago after meeting mountaineers from Colorado, but he never forgot about the needs in Nepal.

"I bring people from here to that part of the world and kinda experience the culture and experience the life of the people in the remote area," he said.

After an earthquake in 2015, he arranged to have doctors and dentists provide free care to people in his impoverished area of Taksindu. At least once a year, he provided services that can't be found in that part of Nepal. He called them health camps.

"When I help other people, then this, we are together, we are together. You know, it doesn't matter where we live," Sherpa said. "The planet is one house."

Now he and his family are in need of help of their own.

"We're going to rebuild the house," Sherpa said. "We don't know how long it's going to take."

Below: drone video of the Sherpa home and the Sagamore neighborhood.

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He has a new mission for the moment, and concerns about whether his insurance policy will pay enough.

"I hope that, you know, it will be enough to rebuild," he said. "If the money is not enough, I don't know what to do."

He said he's worried about the whole process.

"Without knowing much, it's very difficult to move forward. Yeah, so this is learning period for me," he said.

For all that was lost, he has a surviving symbol of growth. A large flower pot that sat outside his front door survived the fire with barely a mark.

"Everything is gone, but this, the flower pot is still there," he said.

Credit: Tom Cole
A large flower pot that sat outside Karma Sherpa's front door survived the Marshall Fire with barely a mark.

More importantly, he has his family. His 14-year-old son, Sonam, and 3-year-old daughter, Sonia, were home with him when the flames approached. 

"I didn't really have a lot of hope that our house would survive," Sonam said.

Sherpa got them out of the house with time to grab only a few things.

"A sweatshirt, shoes, my sister, my father and my phone, that's about it," Sonam said.

Dafuti Sherpa was in Boulder visiting a friend, unaware that her husband and children were fleeing the Marshall Fire until they got away.

"Once I saw my family, I was OK, like I made my peace there," she said.

They didn't have much left. But, what they do have is good – karma.

"You see there's a lot of silver lining," said Dafuti, who's also from Nepal. "The people you know and you don't know them – all coming together to help."

Credit: Courtesy of the Sherpa family
The Sherpa family's home in Superior before the Marshall Fire.

A couple who was moving out of state saw on Facebook that these people who for years had given everything to others were left with virtually nothing, according to the Sherpas.

They said the couple gave them their furnished home for free to stay in until June. Dafuti Sherpa said they met the couple for the first time on the day they turned over their keys and moved out.

"We cried," Dafuti said. "All the people who are going through like me, just stay positive and stay strong."

Sonam said he was relieved.

"I don't know how long I would survive one room with my parents and my sister," Sonam said.

Karma Sherpa said they are in the process of finding a long-term place to stay. He said it might take years before he can move back into his neighborhood.

"I love my neighbors. I love the area," he said.

He loves the idea of returning home, no matter what. 

"I cannot really skip the problem," he said.

9NEWS will continue to share the stories of the Sherpa family and others as they each navigate the journeys to find their ways back home.

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