Devastation in Boulder County

Tessa Stimatze, Editor

Nearly a year after a mass shooting at King Soopers killing 10 people, Boulder County has been struck with a fire burning more than 6,219 acres in under 24 hours on December 30th.


As high winds pushed it throughout Superior and Louisville, Colorado. Roughly 35,000 people have been evacuated in Boulder County, and have now been lifted.


The residential destruction from the fire left 1084 structures in ruins and another 149 damaged, totaling approximately $512,212,590 in residential damages. Seven commercial structures were also destroyed and another 80 were damaged. 


Clean up of debris and ashes have started but the process is starting slow, families have started shifting through this debris for personal belongings. Larger clean-up will begin at a later date.


Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle originally said the presumed cause of the fire was downed power lines from high winds, the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management countered that Xcel Energy found no power lines downed in the areas. 


The Marshall fire is now being investigated to have started on land owned by the Twelve Tribes group. Members have been working with the Boulder County Sheriff Office.


Identification of remains found in the fire were those of 69-year-old, Robert Sharpe who is the first and only confirmed death due to the fire. The search for 91-year-old Nadine Turnbell continues after her family reported her to be among the missing.


Well over $25 million has been raised to help the victims of the fire with $5 million being distributed to those who have lost their home in the fire or who are in financial need. 


The community has been working with local, state, and federal partners to aid with support. Public and nonprofit organizations in addition to GoFundMe have raised over $14.6 million and another $12 million through the Boulder County Wildfire Fund.


In addition to donations, support for these victims is being provided by the Disaster Assistance Center, including, financial and legal support, food assistance, mental health support, housing.


Locally, Ms. Lyell, a teacher at Rocky Mountain High, has lost her family home, which was designed, and built by her father in 1969. Almost 53 years of treasured memories and irreplaceable items were lost.


“We feel incredibly supported by so many people. Staff/friends have delivered meals – which has been amazing to not have to plan and cook! Strangers have given clothing, money, household items.”  Lyell added that this feeling is slightly overwhelming, but much appreciated.


Lyell’s parents (aged 88 and 90) are currently residing in her Fort Collins home dining room and plan to relocate to Fort Collins to a senior living area. Lyell describes the situation as “devastation” for them.


The family is unsure as to what this means for the future. Dealing with insurance has been complicated and time-consuming. 


As they begin the clean-up process Lyell said, “People are driving through the neighborhood to view the damage, which feels odd.”


There are many great resources for victims, and for those who wish to help them, listed below.


Resources to help victims:

  • Boulder County Wildfire Fund by The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County
  • Salvation Army
  • To donate to the fire relief efforts:
  1. Text: “FIRERELIEF” to 51555
  2. Website:!/donation/checkout 
  • Colorado Responds 
  • American Red Cross

– To donate to the fire relief efforts: 

  1. Text: “REDCROSS” to 90999
  2. Call: 1-800-HELP-NOW
  3. Website: 
  • Humane Society (for lost pets)
  • Boulder County Wildfire Fund