BOULDER COUNTY — As of Friday evening, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County is estimated at 6,000 acres and is not expected to grow anymore as heavy snow is falling across the fire zone.
Officials say more than 900 homes are confirmed destroyed, and over 100 more are damaged.
The snow is starting to hide some of the blackened damage, but there's also destruction you can't hide. Whole neighborhoods are gone, and in many cases, only one home remains intact on a block.
Firefighters and other emergency crews are still working in the area. As of Friday afternoon, officials are working to identify the cause of the fire, which was originally thought to be downed power lines. However, Xcel Energy crews inspected all equipment and found no downed power lines. Some communication lines, such as cable or telephone, were compromised, but these do not normally cause fires.
Xcel Energy reports about 5,500 customers are without electrical service and 13,000 without natural gas as we head into a bitterly cold evening. Natural gas service is restricted due to safety concerns in the fire zone. The company anticipates restoring electrical service to about 2,800 customers by Saturday evening.
News5 spoke with a woman who said her neighborhood in Louisville was full of beautiful luxury-type homes just a day ago, but now all you see are foundations and perhaps a few bricks still standing.
On the edge of the burn area, there are lines of cars parked on the side of the road from people who evacuated but are now coming in to check on their homes.
Some figured out back-ways to their homes and came out emotional from seeing the destruction.
"I somehow have a house still even though I don't have a back fence. The fire came as close as it could without taking away everything I own in this world," explained Louisville homeowner Elyse Singer.
The situation is still overwhelming, but the family also saw what remains of friends and neighbors' homes. ."Some neighbors don't have their homes anymore and I don't even know what to think," said Singer.
It's a situation where it's hard to be happy for yourself when others are facing devastation.
There's no power in a lot of the town, the water is currently not safe to drink. Even with homes that survived a lot of people are finding places to go until the situation here improves.
Louisville hangs on to small-town roots, exemplified by City Council member Caleb Dickinson who walked the fire zone to assess what he now knows is widespread destruction. "There are entire neighborhoods gone and it might jump one house," he recalled.
There will be neighbor-to-neighbor community support for recovery that could take years.
If you'd like to help with disaster relief, you can make a donation through the Boulder County Community Wildfire Fund, which the Community Foundation of Boulder County activated to help the more than 35,000 people who were forced to flee their homes due to the Marshall Fire.
Secondly, you can donate to the American Red Cross of Colorado, which has people ready to help with resources such as evacuation centers.
The Boulder Office of Emergency Management is also asking owners of vacation rentals who would like to offer shelter to those displaced to sign up through Air BNB's Open Homes program.
Another way you can give is through the Scripps Howard Foundation. You can conveniently and safely donate through the program online. If you're reading this on your computer, you can snap a photo of the code below to go right to the donation form on your phone.
Either way, just select “Wildfire Relief Fund” from the drop-down menu. KOAA News5 thanks you for your consideration as we look to bring hope and help the community rebuild stronger.