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Louisville fire chief reflects on Marshall Fire

Chief John Willson says Dec. 30, 2021 is a date he will remember for the rest of his life.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Three days after the Marshall Fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes, the images of it are hard to comprehend.

Even to seasoned professionals like Louisville Fire Protection District Chief John Willson, what they encountered and are now seeing is hard to believe.

"I don't know if I have words...it's just mind boggling," said Willson. "It still amazes me every time I drive this area."

Even looking right at it doesn't seem real.

"It's been three days now and I still can't wrap my head around this," he said.

After a career that spans nearly four decades, Willson thought he'd seen it all. But then came the Marshall Fire. Willson said Dec. 30, 2021 is a date he will remember for the rest of his life.  

As chief, Willson no longer fights fires himself. Today, his job is to make sure firefighters are safe and that the community that depends on him is protected. 

"We tried as best we could with the circumstances that we had to deal with to try to save their homes. Unfortunately, we lost some," he said.

The Marshall Fire came close to Willson's fire station on the south side of Harper Lake as it destroyed nearby homes. 

"We were lucky. We were very, very lucky," he said. "Every day I come to work I'll have a reminder that this occurred."

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