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Officials give update on insurance, unemployment options for Marshall Fire victims

Colorado officials emphasized the importance of filing insurance claims as soon as possible, and also said victims can apply for federal unemployment until Feb. 2.

DENVER — Colorado officials gave the latest information on unemployment and insurance options available to victims of the Marshall Fire during an update with Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and his cabinet on Wednesday.

With the wildfire destroying nearly 1,000 homes and businesses in Boulder County, Colorado Division of Insurance Commissioner Mike Conway emphasized the importance of filing claims as soon as possible.

"In order for people to rebuild their lives, that claims process has to start," Conway said.

Conway said one of the most immediate sources of assistance is the 30% insurance companies must offer to fire victims for the contents of their homes.

"That will help folks start to rebuild their lives," Conway said. "It will get money into their hands to start to buy things that they lost."

9Wants to Know has learned at least 1,091 structures were destroyed and 179 were damaged in the fire. This is a list updated with a list of addresses as of January 6, 2022. The map may be missing addresses. If you notice a destroyed or damaged structure that's not on the map, please email Zack Newman: zack.newman@9news.com. 

It is also important to document all interactions with insurance companies, keep receipts for everything that has been purchased since the wildfire, and document damage home damage due to the fire and receipts for repairs.

"Keep receipts for things you normally wouldn't keep receipts for, like that toothbrush and toothpaste that you're buying for your kids," Conway said. "Those typical things that in a normal world you would've thrown receipts away for, those things are going to add up, and it's going to be important for folks to show the insurance companies everything they replaced."

Anyone with questions can contact the Colorado Division of Insurance at dora_insurace@state.co.us or at 303-894-7490.

RELATED: Wildfire focus will soon turn to rebuilding, insurance claims

The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program has been authorized by President Joe Biden for Marshall Fire victims, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Director Joe Barela said.

The federal program allows individuals whose lives have been disrupted by declared disaster events to receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. That includes self-employed individuals who are not normally eligible for unemployment benefits.

Benefit claims can be filed at coloradoui.gov or 303-318-9000. Applicants will need to provide a social security number and documentation of their income. Anyone who does not have access to that information is advised to contact CDLE at the unified assistance center located at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette. 

The application deadline for filing a DUA claim is Feb. 2, Barela said.

> Watch the full briefing in the video below:

RELATED: IRS extends tax-filing deadline for Colorado wildfire victims

The assistance center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily this week. Staff is available to help residents with insurance claims filing, financial and food assistance, mental health support, transportation and more. 

Colorado Department of Public Safety Director Stan Hilkey said that any victims seeking assistance can go to the center to learn more about their options, including support provided the the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those programs include assistance for temporary housing, home repairs, underinsured residents and hazard mitigation.

"While this fire has burned through neighborhoods at a breathtaking speed, the recovery will take much longer than any of us will like," Hilkey said. "The initial horrific fire was hard, but the additional hard parts are ahead of us. The recovery will take a long time, and it will often feel confusing and frustrating."

RELATED: Assistance center opens for victims of Marshall Fire

The Community Foundation of Boulder County said Tuesday they've approved a grant to begin immediately dispersing $5 million in direct aid to those impacted by the Marshall Fire. That is just a portion of the $12 million donated to the wildfire relief fund.

Comcast said they have restored service to about 89% of customers affected by the fire. Crews are going property by property to assess damage and restore service to the remaining customers. 

Xcel Energy said service to customers is largely restored. Any natural gas customers who have not yet had their pilot lights re-lit should call Xcel at 1-800-895-2999 when they plan to return to their homes. Someone 18 years old or older must be at home for the relight to be completed.

Electric customers who do not have service to their property but would like to receive it can call Xcel at 1-800-895-1999.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire could take weeks or months, officials said at a news conference Monday.

Two people were missing, 991 structures were destroyed and 127 were damaged, along with 6,026 acres burned in the wildfire that started Thursday. The perimeter of the fire is 100% contained, but there were still hot spots within the fire area as of Monday, the incident management team said.

RELATED: $12 million donated to Boulder County Wildfire Fund

Days after flames and smoke were seen emanating from what might be the source of the wildfire, investigators continue to eye property tied to a religious sect.

Members of the global religious group live just south of the city near Highway 93 and Marshall Road, where smoke and flames were captured on witness video mid-morning last Thursday.

This week, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle acknowledged the group’s land in this location is tied to the investigation and stressed it could take weeks or months to find an official cause of the fire.

So far, nobody has been charged or accused.

Twelve Tribes is a religious sect with communities from Japan to Boulder that operates more than 20 Yellow Deli shops, including a location on Pearl Street in the city. The group says it tries to live a lifestyle reflective of the early Christian church.

RELATED: Religious group’s land tied to Marshall Fire investigation, sheriff says

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