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'Recover And Restore': Firefighters Describe Intense Fight As Marshall Fire Consumed Homes

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- It's been one week since the Marshall Fire ripped through Boulder County, and now CBS4 is hearing from the firefighters on the front lines.

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Louisville Fire Battalion Chief Diane Schroeder arrived at the fire in Louisville last Thursday, just a few hours after it began taking over neighborhoods. It was actually her day off. She said the call came in as "all hands on deck."

"As I pulled into the town it was surreal. To have a fire of this magnitude in our small area, I knew it was going to be big," Schroeder said.

Schroeder told CBS4 it was the over 100 mph winds, that made this fire so extreme.

"It's really a firefighter's and incident commander's worst nightmare because you cannot control the wind," said Schroeder. "So the thought was 'this is terrible and please let the wind stop.'"

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North Metro firefighter Jeremy Leadem was also one of the first at the scene in Louisville.

RELATED: Resources For Marshall Fire Victims

"It was fast, it was moving fast through the structure," said Leadem. "It started on the exterior of the house, quickly moved interior, it was shooting out the attic in almost no time, and no matter how much water we were putting on it, we were having very little effect."

The smoke, dirt, debris and ash made it difficult for them to see and breathe.

"Just choking on smoke and ash, you wouldn't expect that standing outside of a structure fire, you would expect that standing inside," Leadem said. "Inside, outside it really didn't make a difference at that point."

Firefighters are trained over and over on how to fight fires, but the Marshall Fire was like nothing they've ever seen before.

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"The sheer fact that we have very few casualties involved, is miraculous," said Leadem.

One week after its destruction, Schroeder said many firefighters are still processing it all, taking time to grieve. She said its impact is going to be long-lasting on everyone.

"I'm thinking about for our organization and communality the healing process, and how we can pour into our community, and how we can help everyone recover and restore," said Schroeder.

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