Boulder County officials answer residents’ questions about fire recovery process

Before the start of Thursday’s community meeting, Garry Sanfaçon shared words of caution to residents who were victims of the Marshall Fire.

“Tonight, we’re not going to be able to answer every single question you have — we don’t know all of the answers yet,” said Sanfaçon, Boulder County’s disaster recovery manager. “There are a lot of unknowns.”

Several unknowns were discussed at the meeting, which was held via Zoom for residents in Louisville, Superior and unincorporated Boulder County. Attendees had the opportunity to ask Marshall Fire responders — including Boulder County officials and a representative from the nonprofit United Policyholders — questions about debris removal, insurance and air quality.

Residents were able to submit questions before the meeting, as well as ask questions in the Zoom format.

To clean up properties within the burn area, a county-backed debris removal program has been underway since Jan. 13. During the meeting, many residents had questions regarding the timeline of the debris removal program, as well as what exactly qualifies as debris on private property.

Darla Arians, Boulder County resource conservation division manager, said phase one of the debris removal program is already completed, with three more phases left until the rebuilding phase can begin. The next steps in the program include right of way debris removal, curbside debris removal collection, and private property debris removal. Arians estimated the plan would be finished by late February.

She was unable to answer what exactly would be considered debris in the private property removal plan because Boulder County is currently waiting on approval by FEMA in regard to private debris removal.

Many residents who have returned to their homes or properties within the burn area have been concerned with air quality.

According to Boulder County Director of Public Health Camille Rodriguez, BCPH has installed air monitoring stations throughout the burn area and is working on installing more to provide residents with the most up-to-date information about particulate monitoring.

Rodriguez warned that as the weather changes in the next couple of months, air quality will vary, and BCPH will be collaborating with area hospitals to survey data and identify any air quality related respiratory illnesses.

Finally, residents wondering when it would be safe to move back into damaged homes were urged to use caution by United Policyholders’ Colorado Coordinator Kerri Waite.

Waite acknowledged that though many residents are eager to return home as soon as possible, moving back too soon may affect insurance eligibility. She recommended residents not move back until an inspection, clearance testing and remediation has been completed.

Though only a handful of the questions posed by residents were discussed at the meeting, Boulder County officials said they would work to to get to all of the questions answered, and will post responses to the Marshall Fire FAQ page.

Sanfaçon also assured viewers that as more information becomes available, the county is committed to being transparent.

“We’re not going anywhere, the county, the cities and the town — we’re not going anywhere. Our staff is committed to working with you and standing side by side with you to figure out how to help you with this recovery,” Sanfaçon said.

The entire meeting will be posted to Boulder County’s YouTube page on Friday. For more information about the Marshall Fire recovery, visit