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Marshall Fire victims asked to opt in or out of debris removal

Property owners are asked to tell the county whether or not they would like debris removal teams to work on their property.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Boulder County is asking people whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Marshall Fire to fill out a form to tell county crews whether or not they would like debris removed from their property.

The form, called a Right of Entry (ROE) form, is the first step in the county's coordinated debris removal process. The ROE will allow the county to immediately remove imminent hazards from the property. It will also allow the county to apply a hydro-mulch to the soil, which will prevent ash from traveling through the air or entering waterways.  

There are three options: 

  • Homeowners can 'opt out' and entirely forego assistance from the county to help with the debris removal.  
  • Another option is to opt out but allow the county to remove pressing hazards from the property, such as propane tanks or anything that proves to be an imminent health or safety danger. The county would also apply the hydro-mulch to the property.  
  • The third option would be to 'opt in’ which would allow the county to remove all of the debris and rubble from the property. The hydro-mulch will also be applied.  

The county said property owners who choose not to participate in the debris removal program are still asked to submit the form so they can accurately track all properties. 

Printable and online versions of the form are available on Boulder County's website.

The deadline for submitting the form is 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 26, the county said.

“We want to get rid of the hazards as fast as possible," said Andrew Barth, the public information officer with Boulder County Public Health. "That’s why there are two opt out hazards.” 

Barth said if you opt in, the goal would be to remove most everything from the property. They would make exceptions for trees and landscaping untouched by the fire. They would even go so far as to make exceptions about foundation still in tact. It would be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

“If there is a tree that is still viable, we won’t take it. If there is landscaping that wasn’t damaged, we aren’t going to take it,” said Barth.  

The county said property owners who choose to conduct structural, ash and soil cleanup work on their own would be ineligible for the debris removal program, and would be responsible for following state and local permitting requirements. 

Many homeowners at this time are weighing their options, including Gary Mansdorfer who is having his basement assessed Thursday by a structural engineer to see if they could salvage any of the walls or the foundation.

Mansdorfer said he would like to know if there is an opportunity to save the basement walls rather than demolishing what remains entirely. 

If the engineer determines the walls are salvageable, Mansdorfer said he would potentially choose to opt out of the program. He is also waiting to learn how much of the landscaping and trees could be kept that were untouched by fire, if he chose to opt in.  

“We want to get more information," Mansdorfer said. "I think right now there is not enough information for anyone to make that decision because we don’t know how the costs are going to be handled.”

People who have their insurance companies remove their cars from their property, but do not do any other removal on their own, are still eligible to participate in the debris removal program. 

The county said property owners who have sifted through ash and debris for personal items are still eligible for the debris removal program. However, they advise this activity "carries considerable health risks." 

RELATED: Don't disturb ash, debris from Marshall Fire, health officials say

The county said right-of-way cleanup efforts will begin in the next few days. Over the next few weeks, crews will focus on clearing public rights of way so other crews have safe access to private properties. This work will include the removal of vehicles from public streets. Removed vehicles will be staged at a to-be-determined site in Louisville.

After that, crews will implement a curbside collection program to pick up items from properties that were damaged by smoke and wind, but not by fire. 

The county said the exact timeline for cleanup of individual properties will be determined by the contractors hired to complete the work, but they are hopeful work can begin by Feb. 1. 

"We will do our best to notify you in advance of all phases of this effort so you understand where work is taking place, what is happening next, and what is complete," the county said.

For more information on the debris removal program:

  • Visit the Debris Booth at the Disaster Assistance Center at 1755 South Public Road in Lafayette
  • Visit boco.org/Marshall-Debris-Cleanup
  • Call the debris hotline at 303-214-3203 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day  

RELATED: Community donations help fill gaps as Marshall Fire survivors move forward

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