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'A wonderful emotion': Louisville couple returns home nearly two years after Marshall Fire

Kinder Family
Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-12 20:53:11-04

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — A Louisville couple is finally back home nearly two years after the Marshall Fire destroyed everything they owned.

Jeff Kinder and his wife, Sammie, only lived in their home for three years before the fire.

"As time went on, you know, we put in new patios in the back and really made it our nest. And then it was gone," said Jeff.

The couple never expected the fire would reach their home that December 2019 day.

"We just grabbed a couple of guitars, some board games and a pot of soup because we were just gonna go to a hotel for the night," Jeff said. "To actually see it go away and lose everything was a whole other experience."

The recovery and rebuilding process has been an emotional one, according to Sammie.

"It's been a journey. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And we were just very lucky and blessed along the way that, you know, there's so many people loving us, taking care of us," she said.

The couple said they've had to overcome several challenges, including insurance issues, permit delays and expensive building costs.

"It was a little bumpier than what we were hoping it was. But at least there was good people there with good intentions," said Jeff. "Unfortunately, we're a small town, and you know, they're ready to do 10 or 20 building permits a year. And to have to do 500, they definitely got over their skis a little bit."

The couple celebrated their return home Thursday with a group of friends and representatives from the building company, Markel Homes, including the company's owner, Michael Markel.

"It really takes everybody's cooperation and, you know, it takes a whole team of people to make something like that," said Markel.

Markel said builders are facing challenges of their own.

"Is it difficult to build in this time period? I would say, you know, it can be. It has been. But the really, the fun part of this is actually, you know, seeing somebody moved in, and, you know, really seeing the smiles," he added.

The Kinders are now hoping their story will help bring hope to other Marshall Fire survivors.

"I think the significance goes well beyond us," said Jeff, "Here we are, you know. It's prayers that are answered."

The Kinders are the second family to return to the neighborhood since the fire. Several of their neighbors are rebuilding nearby and will move in soon.