SUPERIOR, Colo. — Every horrific image in Boulder County after the Marshall Fire represents unimaginable loss.
"Now, I'm on the other side," said Gilbert Espinoza.
Espinoza lost his home off 3rd Avenue in Superior after wind-whipped flames tore through his little neighborhood on Dec 30. His neighbors lost their homes too.
Espinoza graduated from BUD/S class 042 in 1967. He was a member of SEAL Team One and deployed to Vietnam. He has a Navy Commendation with ‘V’ for Valor and a Purple Heart. After leaving the Navy, Espinoza joined the Boulder Fire Department, achieving the rank of battalion chief.
It was an old friend and current firefighter who alerted Espinoza that his home was destroyed.
"The hard part is my kids look at that mess of their home and their memories," he said with tears. "But we have each other."
Espinoza said, despite his heartbreak, he knows what he and his neighbors have to do next.
"It's all my community. We won't quit. We rise up," he said. "I have to look forward to things I can't see and not get stuck looking down because then I have nothing."
He still has his dog Chief — that's thanks to neighbors who kicked down the door to get him out before flames took over the house.
"You can be so connected to things. My house is gone. All my stuff is gone," he explained. "But all my friends are out."
Resiliency must win now. Hope must rise from the ashes.
"I've talked with some of my fellow Superior residents. We have to come together. We have to figure out how to come out of this," he said.
Espinoza's Seal Team One Echo platoon teammates started a verified fundraiser. If you want to help Espinoza get back on his feet, click here to donate.