Fire Changes Lives: The Impact of the Marshall Fires

Fire Changes Lives: The Impact of the Marshall Fires

Brayden Nieder

From December 30th to January 1st, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County devastated hundreds of families. The flames devoured everything in their path.

 A lot has been lost, but plenty has been found. These are the stories that won’t be forgotten, and the weather that will burn a mark in one’s life forever.

“The winds were so heavy, I could barely make it up the street,” said Josh Newhouse.

Newhouse, a resident of Superior, Colorado, had a majority of his neighborhood lost to the flames. When first notified to leave, he grabbed the essentials and evacuated quickly.

“I could see structures starting to burn,” said Newhouse.  “Smoke [was] coming from the edges of the neighborhood.” 

After driving out of immediate danger, Newhouse watched the fire from a ridgeline nearby. During a strong moment of indecision, he continued to drive south with no particular destination in mind.

“[I was] completely powerless and not in any control whatsoever,” said Newhouse.

At the time, the thought of losing the house didn’t shake him. As his mind was racing quickly, he hadn’t even begun to consider it.

“Emotionally, I hadn’t crossed the bridge yet,” said Newhouse.

By the suggestion of his wife Susan, Josh stayed with his relatives Robert and Barbara Nieder at their house in Denver. Watching the news that night, Newhouse was unable to go to bed. He then ventured back to Superior, where his family’s house was thankfully still standing.

“[The fire] came within about five, six houses of us,” said Newhouse.

The flames happened to bypass a strip of houses on their street due to the wild winds.

Newhouse’s wife Susan and their children, Cameron and Madelyn, were currently in Arizona. Susan kept in touch with him frequently, trying to shield the severity of the news from the kids.

“They knew that something was wrong, but they didn’t know the full extent of the scope,” said Newhouse.

Newhouse now leaves this experience with a greater respect and understanding for nature. As for Cameron and Madelyn, he feels a strong sense of appreciation.

“I think they’re really thankful as they look at our neighborhood and see the destruction, knowing that we were spared,” said Newhouse.

Junior Kali Quinn was also up in Superior, visiting a friend. When the fire neared the IHOP Quinn and her mother were eating breakfast in, they too needed to evacuate.

“It was very hard to breathe. It felt like there was a weight on my chest,” said Quinn. “I thought to myself: Darn, I’m gonna die in an IHOP.”

Quinn and her mother helped an elderly couple from the restaurant to their car, standing on either side of them as they walked blindly through the ash-full, smoky wind. After helping the couple, they quickly found their way to their car.

“I got the ashes out of my eyes by crying,” said Quinn.

Flames only five feet away, Kali and her mother still managed to get away safely. On the way to her friend’s house, where she would stay the night, Quinn looked back only to see the fire absorbing everything in its path.

Quinn now better understands how a natural disaster can change one’s life forever.

“I’m just a lot more appreciative for everything that I have,” said Quinn.

Alison Beaird, Grandview’s activities director, helped arrange the fundraiser for the students to support those who had been affected by the fire.

“We had to do something,” said Beaird.

The Cherry Creek school district as a whole has earned over $53,140, with Grandview raising   almost $7,000. Those wishing to help people affected by the fire can visit the Boulder County Wildfire Fund or donate through GHS-wolves on Venmo.

The fire changed many lives, but in its destruction, it taught many lessons.

“Always try to be prepared. Be grateful for what we have,” said Newhouse.