“They didn’t deserve this.”

That’s Louisville resident Garrett Wilson, looking on in disbelief as a trained search and rescue bloodhound sniffs around the debris of his destroyed home for the remains of his dogs Fudge and Riley.

If you’re a crier like me, you’ll want to steel yourself for this one.

Wilson is one of many pet owners who have sought the services of Justice Takes Flight, a missing persons nonprofit that shifted gears to look for missing dogs and cats after the Marshall Fire. Led by a four-legged investigator named Amber, they offer something like closure to people reeling from the unknowns surrounding their beloved pets in the wake of the disaster.

Last Friday, photojournalist Anthony Albidrez and I tagged along with Amber and her human colleagues as they searched for the remains of pets in southern Boulder County. The result is an up-close account of loss and grief, tinged with a spirit of community, compassion and a love for animals.

Good girl, Amber. 🐶🖤

– Jezy, managing editor

Assisting the Wilson family, whose home was destroyed in the Marshall Fire, a trained search and rescue bloodhound named Amber stands ready before searching for their missing dogs, Fudge and Riley. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Stories

Photos: Nonprofit K9 search and rescue team offers closure to grieving pet owners after Marshall Fire

With the help of a bloodhound named Amber, a missing persons nonprofit extends its mission to help pet owners after the most destructive wildfire in state history. Jezy Gray and Anthony Albidrez capture the experience in photos and words. Read the full story

Marshall Fire and Omicron were top of mind at Tuesday’s BVSD school board meeting

Boulder Valley School District held its first board meeting of 2022 on Jan. 11 as the community continues to assess losses and chart its recovery from the Marshall Fire. The board discussed how the wildfire has affected students and staff alike, and shared details on the district’s response to the crisis. Read the full story


⏱️ Sunny and mild today. Expect highs near 60.
⏱️ Mountain snowpack is much improved from a month (and a year) ago: 137% of normal yesterday in the North Platte basin, 130% in the upper Colorado River basin and 125% in the South Platte basin.
⏱️ Still without water in Louisville? The city’s public works department is hosting a virtual meeting today at 2 p.m. to help residents “understand the process for reinstating water.”
⏱️ BVSD is warning families about staffing shortages amid rising Covid cases. “We may need to briefly move a classroom or school to remote learning, suspend bus routes and other services,” Superintendent Rob Anderson said Wednesday.
⏱️ Centura Avista Adventist Hospital is reopening after suffering smoke damage.
⏱️ Join a virtual town hall on policing in Boulder this afternoon at 5 p.m. The focus will be on the police accreditation process.
⏱️ Beginning Saturday, Jan. 15, the Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) will be open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (instead of until 7 p.m.) seven days a week.
⏱️ The Small Business Administration offers relief through low-interest loans to renters, homeowners, nonprofit organizations and businesses in declared disaster areas. Call 1-800-659-2955 or visit their table at the DAC in Lafayette.
⏱️ The Boulder County Housing Authority is waiving income restrictions and applications fees for fire victims. One- to three-bedroom rentals are available in Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Nederland and Niwot. Monthly rent falls somewhere between $1,000 to $1,900. Pet friendly.
⏱️ All 40 rooms at the newly renovated Boulder University Inn, located at 1632 Broadway and owned by Tebo Properties, will be available for short- or long-term lodging for Marshall Fire victims. Rates are $99 per night for weekly stays and $79 per night for monthly stays.
⏱️ For Radon Action Month, CDPHE offers a quick video on “what every Coloradan should know” about the naturally occurring radioactive gas.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Jan. 13, 2022

  • 633 daily new cases (7-day avg.)  🔺Up 96% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 47 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 39 since July 2020.
  • 55% 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

  • Upward trajectory. Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said on Wednesday that Colorado is continuing to see a rapid increase in cases, with no sign yet of flattening. Percent positivity has also climbed sharply to nearly 30 percent, she said, the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the number of hospitalizations was 1,577.  That is roughly the same as the number of hospitalizations on the recent fall peak, on Nov. 23.
  • Good news. ICU bed capacity is remaining stable statewide, said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. “When you compare it to where we were about a month ago, it is actually showing an increase,” he said. Up to 133 beds are available (7-day moving average), compared to about 100 or fewer during the Delta peak. “We do have a significant amount of ICU beds available.”
  • Tested positive? You can self-report through Colorado Exposure Notifications. This service lets you know quickly if you’ve been exposed and reduces the amount of time users previously waited to verify their positive Covid-19 test results. Privacy is paramount. Learn more here.
  • Pick up the phone. You’ve got questions — the CDPHE has answers. Call the state’s vaccine hotline at 1-877- CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926) for all vax-related questions, info about providers, general Covid updates and more.

BRL Picks

🙋 Step up for your city. Want to volunteer for a City of Boulder board or commission? Apply by Feb. 21 to work with elected officials and staff to “shape the future of Boulder.” Applications are being accepted for the Arts Commission, Beverage Licensing Authority, Board of Zoning Adjustment and more.
🚲 E-bikes for fire victims. Boulder BCycle is offering free e-bikes to people affected by the Marshall Fire. If you or someone you know could use the help getting around, email boulder@bcycle.com. “We will provide whatever we can to assist in this difficult time. No questions asked.”
🚗 Drivers (still) wanted. Reminder: Nosh Boulder, the city’s free meal delivery subsidy, is looking for volunteer drivers to deliver food to fire victims. If you’ve got a car and would like to help, sign up here.
🛍️ Fire free market. A new free market for fire victims is opening on Feb. 3. The location is TBD, but organizers are looking for volunteers starting today. Questions about donations? Just ask.  
💼 Career services. Looking for a job and part of the CU community? CU Boulder offers a suite of online tools to help. From establishing your career road map to prepping for interviews and more, check out the university’s career services resource hub.

What We’re Reading

  • “This is a climate emergency.” That’s the message from Boulder County Commissioners to President Biden and the community at large in a statement released yesterday. “As we recover from the Marshall Fire, Boulder County will continue our climate action work, but we cannot do it alone. We need more support and ambition from the federal government, to stand a chance,” the statement said. “Make your voices heard by contacting your members of Congress and state legislators. You can also learn about Boulder County’s potentially precedent-setting climate liability lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy.” [Boulder County]  
  • Inside the Marshall Fire. The National Weather Service has published an in-depth scientific analysis of the high winds and drought that helped spawn the most destructive wildfire in state history. “It takes just the right combination of meteorological parameters, including stability, wind shear, and wind magnitude to create a powerful and damaging windstorm like this one.” [NWS]


💰 Penalties for post-fire price gougers. Displaced Boulder County residents have been sounding alarms about alleged exorbitant rental rates and hotel costs. But a 2020 Colorado law protects them from this kind of price gouging. John Herrick interviews Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who’s urging residents to report “out of whack” prices for essentials like housing in the wake of the disaster. “We have serious penalties we can use,” he said. 

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Archived work by Jezy Grazy for Boulder Reporting Lab.