What kind of life can I rebuild for myself?

That’s Boulder County resident Adam Kucera, 34, contemplating an unknown future after being displaced by the Marshall Fire last Thursday. Kucera was living in a bus, which was parked at the Costco in Superior. He says it was most likely destroyed in the inferno.

Reporter John Herrick talked to Kucera and others remaining at the YMCA of Northern Colorado in Lafayette, the last open shelter for residents displaced by the fire. The story offers a human look at some of our most vulnerable neighbors who are struggling to figure out their next step.

You’ll find that dispatch in this morning’s edition of BRL Today, along with a list of where you can donate and volunteer right now. Plus essential community information for those affected by the fires, and for those looking to help.

As a reminder, we’re publishing our newsletter daily during the crisis. Got a story you want to see? Information you need right now? Please tell us.

– Jezy, managing editor

Residents evacuated due to the Marshall Fire slept inside the YMCA in Lafayette on Dec. 30, 2021. Credit: John Herrick

Top Stories

‘What kind of life can I rebuild?’ The remaining people at the last shelter for fire victims are unsure what comes next

All but about two dozen residents displaced by the disaster have since left the Lafayette YMCA. Many who remain are waiting to return to their homes — or are unable to find anywhere else to go. Read the full story

The Marshall Fire has spurred an outpouring of giving. Here’s where you can donate and volunteer today.

Organizations say they’re overwhelmed by the amount of physical donations. Use this guide to donate cash, food and your own time. Read the full story

Quickly

⏱️ The Marshall Fire is currently 6,026 acres acres, and 100% of the perimeter has been contained, per Boulder County.
⏱️ Restoration of natural gas service is expected to be “substantially complete” today, says Xcel Energy. Nearly 6,000 pilot lights have been relit. Read more about the state of repairs.
⏱️ Note: You must be home to have your pilot lights serviced.
⏱️ FEMA has approved Disaster Unemployment Assistance for up to 26 weeks for individuals affected by the fire, including people who are unemployed and self-employed.
⏱️ Residents affected by the Marshall Fire can dispose of spoiled food and water-damaged household items in open-top dumpsters at various locations in Superior and Louisville.
⏱️ A group of restaurants in the Boulder and Denver areas are providing free food for fire victims. You’ll find the full list at the bottom of this page of resources from Downtown Boulder.
⏱️ Healthy, displaced pets get free boarding and services from Evolution Veterinary Specialists, Inc. in Lakewood.
⏱️ Was your home affected by the fires? You can pick up your mail at the Louisville post office, 566 McCaslin Blvd.
⏱️ Need a hand cleaning up your damaged home? Call the Home Cleanup Hotline at 720-206-0627 for help. Most volunteer groups are anticipated to work through Friday, Jan. 14.
⏱️ Boulder OEM is encouraging county residents to replace their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as heavy smoke from the fires may have dulled detectors’ sensitivity.
⏱️ Boulder County Public Health “is actively working to determine how much of a health risk the current air quality poses.” Assume the air quality is poor in burn areas and areas immediately downwind, officials said.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Jan. 4, 2021

  • 324 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 157% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 44 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 39 since July 2020.
  • 58% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 72% since July 2020.
  • Data: Here’s how and where we’re tracking all of the above.

Latest Covid news

  • Long lines at Stazio Fields. People widely reported long waits of an hour-plus on Monday. Find a complete list of Covid-19 testing sites in Boulder County here.
  • Hospitalizations ticking up statewide. Journalist Seth Klaman, who has been crunching Covid data in Colorado, wrote in a tweet: “Hospitalizations continue to nudge up, albeit at a far slower pace (makes sense given both omicron’s apparently more mild presentation & lag in cases -> hospitalizations). 1,167 people confirmed w/ COVID in the hospital, was 1,125 on Friday. Still 400 below Nov. hospital peak.”
  • Jury trials suspended in Boulder County. The decision was handed down by Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke, who cited a spike in Covid cases.

BRL Picks

🧸 Toy drive. Play is more important than ever for Boulder County’s youngest residents affected by recent wildfires. That’s why CU Science Discovery is collecting new and gently used toys. Drop by one of four locations in Boulder and Louisville to donate books, LEGOs, puzzles, art supplies and more. Today is the last day of the drive, so don’t delay.
🛍️ Free shopping. People who have lost items can get what they need during a free market for fire victims from 12–9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, at the Rayback Collective. Bring a donation for a free drink ticket. Rayback will also provide a food truck and drink vouchers for people displaced by the fires.
🙋‍♀️ Volunteers needed. Want to pitch in with relief efforts? The City of Louisville needs your help. Those able and interested should email Erica Schmitt at eschmitt@louisvilleco.gov to be included in their volunteer email lists.
🤑 Cash is good. Boulder OEM says the best way to help people right now is to make dollar donations to ColoradoGives, an online giving tool powered by the Community First Foundation that connects donors with nonprofits.
🚗 Food on four wheels. Nosh Delivery, the City of Boulder’s free meal delivery subsidy, is organizing a network of volunteers to help deliver food from its restaurant partners to those in need. You can sign up here.
More ways to help. Be sure to check out our listing of ways you can donate and volunteer to support the fire relief effort today. We’ll be updating it, so you can stay up to date on opportunities to lend a hand.

What We’re Reading

  • How to catch a cat. Retired police officer Shannon Jay offers tested strategies for locating, patterning and rescuing cats after a fire. “The hardest part is finding the cat and keeping her in the area. Once that is done, your battle is more than halfway over. For those who lost homes, these cats may run a distance to escape the flames but will very often return to their home areas, especially if they are outdoor cats. Indoor only cats will also come towards home.” [Shannon Jay]
  • King Soopers union workers vote to strike. Denver and Boulder area grocery workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 say they’ll withhold their labor for higher wages along with health and retirement benefits. “In total, 98% of Denver retail workers, 97% of Denver meat workers, 100% of Boulder meat workers, 100% of Broomfield meat and retail workers and 100% of Parker meat workers voted to strike. … Employees will remain at work at least through the end of their current agreement, which expires at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 8.” [Denver Channel]
  • City pays Sammie Lawrence. The Boulder resident, who is Black, was arrested by police in 2019 for filming an interaction between officers and a person experiencing homelessness. He’ll receive $95,000 from the city for successfully arguing in court that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated. “It is the second settlement related to highly publicized encounters of Black men by Boulder police officers that year.” [Boulder Beat]

ICYMI from BRL

🔥 Marshall Fire: The face of climate change, manipulating from the margins. The factors that combined to create the historic fire last week represent a new dynamic, unprecedented in Colorado. 
🏢 A list of businesses destroyed or damaged in the fire. More than 20 businesses were destroyed or damaged, according to “preliminary” and “partial” official estimates. This includes the entire Superior Marketplace.
📝 Here’s what to do right now if you lost your home in Boulder County. Reporter John Herrick spoke with attorney Natascha O’Flaherty, who has been helping Colorado residents get insurance payouts for properties lost in the East Troublesome Fire. She passes on the lessons she’s learned, advising prompt action.
In response to ACLU letter, City of Boulder defends its camping ban. The Boulder attorney defended the constitutionality of the city’s public camping ban in response to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado to suspend the ordinance this winter because of shelter capacity.

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.