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Only one family has moved into rebuilt home after Marshall Fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes

Posted: 9:21 AM, Dec 30, 2022
Updated: 2022-12-30 12:36:18-05
Marshall Fire victim rebuilding his Louisville home himself

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The devastation is still apparent one year after the Marshall Fire decimated entire neighborhoods in Boulder County in a single evening.

More than a 1,000 homes were destroyed, yet only one family who decided to rebuild has moved in.

Families who lost their home in the fire know that figure isn't surprising, considering the obstacles that have stood in their way throughout the rebuilding process.

Only one family has moved into rebuilt home after Marshall Fire destroyed 1,000

"I can't believe that it's almost a year and that the lot looks like this," Rana Gheissari said, pointing to the spot her family's Louisville home once stood. "With the amount of energy that we've been expending this past year, I really expected to be farther along. And I'm just so tired."

Gheissari and her husband, Rob Delow, will be the first to admit they were significantly underinsured, like the majority of Marshall Fire victims.

"It was really scary waking up the next day, talking to the agent and realizing we only have, like, a third of the coverage to rebuild the home," Delow said.

Friends, family and various resources made it possible for the family to begin the rebuilding process, with a permit currently pending.

As of Dec. 14, only 123 building permits have been issued in Louisville, where 550 homes were destroyed — that's less than a quarter one year later.

In Superior, 387 homes were destroyed, and 97 building permits have been issued so far. In unincorporated Boulder County, 28 building permits have been issued compared to the 157 homes destroyed.

Superior's new mayor, Mark Lacis, acknowledges he is taking over during difficult circumstances. He's talked with experts in California and Oregon who've gone through rebuilding at this scale before.

"They told us best case scenario, expect two to three years from the date of the fire as to when people are going to be moving back into their homes," Lacis said.

But Lacis' vision for Superior is more optimistic.

"We're looking at 18 months," the mayor said. "18 months from the fire, I think, realistically, people are going to be moving back into their homes."

Residents like Chris Raulf are waiting to break ground in Superior.

"I think coming back here is a great opportunity to rebuild some of those memories," Raulf said.

Raulf's rebuilding plan started almost immediately after his family home was lost, but not without major challenges.

"You have to deal with insurance, the mortgage company, trying to get financing secured — it's basically a full-time job," he said.

It's a job so many in impacted communities have taken on, including Raulf's neighbors, Jim and Sandy Curfman.

"I'm back here every day," Jim Curfman said. "I'm curious about the progress they're making and anxious to see that it's done well."

One year later, the progress looks different for many lots — some with basic structures underway, others with for-sale signs in front, but the majority, still, just empty lots.