NewsMarshall Fire


Homes spared in Marshall Fire left uninhabitable due to smoke damage, toxic fumes

Homeowners forced to navigate tricky claims process
Marshall Fire
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 19:47:54-05

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Nearly all evacuation zones are now back open six days after the Marshall Fire tore through parts of suburban Denver in Boulder County.

Despite evacuation orders being lifted, on Wednesday, Boulder County leaders asked those who lost their homes to avoid going back in and sifting through the rubble because the ash and debris are toxic and dangerous to inhale, regardless if a person is wearing a mask or not.

That toxicity in the fumes and ash is also cause for concern among those whose homes were left standing, including Terry Healy’s home, which sits right next to a half dozen homes that burned to the ground.

“You can see the headlight melted,” Healy said walking around one of his vehicles that was parked on the street the night of the fire. “The bumper is all melted."

While there’s nothing left of Healy’s neighbor’s home, his home is still standing. However, there are significant damages to his home, including smoke, ash and other toxins.

"We are not staying in the house, it's really not safe," Healy said. “We had a cleaning company come by, and they did a mapping of the interior of our house. There's three air-scrubbers in there."

Healy and hundreds of others are now left to navigate the often muddy insurance claims process, especially for those whose homes did not burn but suffered significant smoke damage.

“They weren’t the easiest to deal with,” Healy said of his carrier, State Farm. “I couldn’t get a hold of a local agent. I was rerouted through some other state, and trying to talk to somebody there wasn’t easy. They told me our house was habitable when clearly, it’s not."

“This is awful. This is a lot,” said Brian Sanchez, founder of Denver Apartment Finders.

His agency is stepping up to help people like Healy with short-term housing.

"We have five families that we're working with currently," Sanchez said.

His company is working to place families that either lost homes or whose homes are uninhabitable, at the moment, because of smoke damage.

“We're soldiers right now,” Sanchez said. “Let us help you connect the dots. We have resources."

Healy's insurance adjuster was finally on-site Wednesday, one positive step toward recovery.

"The claims process isn’t easy, but we're very blessed and lucky to still have a house,” Healy said. “Unlike our neighbors who have nothing.”

Denver7 has compiled a list of resources available to homeowners, including how to deal with your insurance company and file a claim.