Good morning, Boulder. Are you hanging in there? 🖤

We know it’s been a tough week, to say the least. That’s why we’re publishing our newsletter daily to help you navigate this uncertain moment.

In this edition of BRL Today, you’ll find more ways to help fire victims as they pick up the pieces of their lives and try to find a path forward. From volunteer opportunities to the latest on the aftermath, we’ve got everything you need to know about the state of recovery today.

Also in this newsletter: John Herrick reports on the prospect of a new shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Boulder, and I talk to local Afghan refugee resettlement organizers about how the Marshall Fire is complicating the already difficult task of finding rent-free homes for vulnerable families.

Please continue to let us know how we can help you right now.

– Jezy, managing editor

A brilliant sunset streaks the sky above a snow-capped town on the plains
The sun sets on Boulder during the evening of Jan. 2, the day after 8.2 inches of snow fell across the county and helped stem the rapid spread of the Marshall Fire. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Stories

Boulder County locals have been opening their homes and hearts to Afghan refugees. Now the Marshall Fire is stressing resettlement efforts.

The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history marked a new shift in the priorities and strategies driving the efforts of local resettlement volunteers. Now they are recalibrating their mission to continue bringing Afghan families to Boulder County in a strange and sudden new reality. Read the full story

City Council seeks to add another emergency shelter for unhoused people in Boulder

A majority of the members on the Boulder City Council said on Tuesday they want to create another shelter for people experiencing homelessness as soon as this winter. Nonprofits providing homelessness services are eager to help. Several providers said they just need money and a building. Read the full story

Quickly

⏱️ Wind chill advisory remains in effect early this a.m. Large list of road closures in the state.
⏱️ Due to weather, BVSD is on a two-hour delayed start today.
⏱️ Stazio Fields Covid-19 testing site will also open late at 1 p.m. today due to snow, and will close at 5 p.m. Here is an up-to-date list of testing sites.
⏱️ Marshall Fire remains 6,026 acres. 100% of the perimeter is contained. Fire crews continue addressing “hot spots around impacted structures.”
⏱️ President Biden will visit Boulder County on Friday to tour damage from the Marshall Fire.
⏱️ The City of Louisville has bumped up the timeline for when it anticipates lifting its boil water order for residents. They expect it to happen late today.
⏱️ Partial human remains of an adult were found in the 5900 block of Marshall Road in unincorporated Boulder County, according to an update on the fire-related missing persons investigation from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
⏱️ Fire debris is causing environmental concerns, according to Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin. She says the county is working with FEMA and state officials in planning for debris removal.
⏱️ Don’t try to clean things up yourself. Boulder County is strongly discouraging residents from disturbing fire ash and debris in affected areas.
⏱️ Boulder OEM’s Incident Management Team (IMT) released a safety video detailing hazards to avoid near fire-damaged areas.
⏱️ On fire-caused Internet outages in Eldorado Springs, Comcast told the Boulder Reporting Lab on Wednesday: “We expect to have services restored for most residences that are still there later this afternoon.”
⏱️ BVSD open enrollment has been extended through 4 p.m. today, due to technical issues with the district’s website.
⏱️ The district is also “in desperate need” of crossing guards, particularly in locations affected by the Marshall Fire.
⏱️ Heading to Eldora? Better have snow tires and 4WD/AWD.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Jan. 6, 2022

  • 380 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 175% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 46 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 39 since July 2020.
  • 62% 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

  • Omicron peak could be weeks away. If it follows patterns in other areas, Colorado could be “several more weeks” away from the high point of hospitalizations in the new variant surge, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.
  • Self-referral testing suspended. Effective Jan. 5, all Boulder Community Health laboratory locations are suspending travel and asymptomatic self-referral Covid testing for a two-week period. BCH said it “will honor our existing appointments.”
  • Data down. Boulder County Public Health says the agency is unable to provide accurate data surrounding race/ethnicity and municipality. That information has been temporarily removed from their Covid data page.
  • New mask mandate for Broomfield. Starting Friday, masks will be required indoors once again. “Data shows Broomfield must take action to protect the health and safety of our community,” city and county officials wrote in an announcement. 

BRL Picks

👪 Community service. Residents affected by the Marshall Fire are invited to attend a virtual community meeting tonight from 6–8 p.m. The Zoom webinar will include updates from Boulder OEM, the Disaster Assistance Center, FEMA, Boulder County Public Health and more. Register here.
🍲 Soup’s up! Affected by the Marshall Fire and need a delicious winter warmer? The Front Range Soup Brigade is here to help. The volunteer homemade soup delivery service is also looking for cooks, drivers and people to help with administration and donations. Click here to sign up for soup, or here to volunteer and donate.
🕊️ Pitch in. Volunteer slots are available at the Dove House in Lafayette, where you can donate your time and help provide Marshall Fire victims with clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Pick a date and time that works for you.
🛒 Free stores. Speaking of Dove House: They’re also offering a free store where fire victims can shop for clothing, toys, winter gear and more. Another free store is set up at the former Tapestry Day Spa location in Louisville. Both locations have more goods than shoppers. Spread the word!
🚗 Need a Lyft? The San Francisco-based ride share service is offering free trips for fire victims through Jan. 18. Use the code COFIRERELIEF22 for two free rides (up to $15 each).
🤝 Let’s meet. The Boulder Jewish Community Center (JCC) is offering free meeting spaces for people affected by the Marshall Fire. Email this address to reserve a table with free wi-fi, or this one for Zoom/virtual meeting support.

What We’re Reading

  • Boiling points. Do you know what to do when returning home during a boil water notice? How about once it’s lifted? Boulder County Public Health breaks down the finer points of safely treating water for drinking, bathing and cooking in this handy Facebook post for those affected by the Marshall Fire. Businesses, too, should take heed: “When returning to a business after a boil water notice is lifted, you will also need to clear your water lines by running the taps in sinks break rooms, bathrooms, water fountains, ice machines, etc.”
  • First minutes of the fire. CPR News examines the crucial early moments of the response to the Marshall Fire. “Those 15 minutes, between notification and finding the fire, were a small but critical portion of a chaotic and historically destructive day in Boulder County that began when a graveyard-shift meteorologist made an educated guess that Dec. 30 had a chance to be unusually windy.” [CPR News]

ICYMI

💧 State health department is assessing Marshall Fire’s damage to drinking water system. Local officials are working to restore water services to residents displaced by the Marshall Fire as soon as possible. But recent research indicates cancer-causing chemicals, such as benzene, can linger in drinking water systems for months after the smoke clears.
💻 Boulder County residents are still without Internet nearly a week after the fire. The Boulder Reporting Lab is following progress on the status of Internet outages in the county. This story is ongoing and will be updated as new information is received.

About Us

Hi. We’re Boulder’s new nonprofit newsroom. Our mission is to help you get more informed about the issues you care about and more connected to the city you love. To do this, we provide high-quality, original journalism on the most pressing issues plus curated community information — all paywall-free. Learn more about us here and here.

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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.