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Debris removal continues six months after Marshall Fire

Boulder County said 14 permits have been issued for rebuilding so far, a fraction of the 1,000 homes that burned.

SUPERIOR, Colo. — Six months after flames tore through suburban neighborhoods, crews report progress in removing tens of thousands of tons of debris from areas damaged and destroyed by the Marshall Fire. 

Boulder County contractors have trucked out 83,000 tons of ash and 53,000 tons of brick and concrete, but rebuilding efforts are moving more slowly. The county reports issuing just 14 permits for homeowners looking to rebuild. 

"Recovering from an event of this magnitude will take years," said Tatiana Hernandez, the CEO of the Community Foundation of Boulder County. "The last six months have really been about wrapping ourselves around the enormity of the situation." 

The fire caused more than $500 million in residential damage, Boulder County said. Estimates from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association pegged the total loss at $2.1 billion. 

Credit: KUSA

Hernandez oversees the Community Foundation's $40 million Marshall Fire fund, which she said has distributed $9 million and earmarked another $30 million for rebuilding efforts, long-term financial assistance and mental health support. 

"Unbelievably it's still not enough," she said. "There are costs associated with an event like this that nobody anticipates that may not be covered by insurance."

Construction crews have framed some houses in the burn zone, but at the remnants of most, stakes hint at blueprints for future builds. County contractors say 230 homes are in the final stage of clearing. 

"Now we're entering the baton pass to the marathon. I would call that the sprint," Hernandez said of the past six months. "Now we're entering the longer marathon."

Credit: KUSA
Debris remains six months after the Marshall Fire.

A marathon of inspections, permits and construction on now-empty lots. Hernandez estimates it will take at least three, possibly up to five years to rebuild. "We're going to need everyone to hold on with us for some time," she said.

Investigators said their inquiry into the cause of the fire remains ongoing and is "taking longer than we all hoped," a Boulder County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said. Investigators have "a couple more" scheduled interviews to complete and are waiting on several third-party reports before presenting the compiled information to the district attorney's office. 

"We know the community wants to know how the fire started and we are sure people are asking why things are taking so long, again we want to complete a thorough investigation and we don’t want to rush the process and risk missing any crucial evidence," spokesperson Carrie Haverfield said. 

Credit: KUSA
A patio set remains nearly intact six months after the Marshall Fire.

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