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'It's Hard to Feel Happy': Some Feel Mixed Emotions After Marshall Fire Spares Their Homes

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – In total, the Marshall Fire destroyed 991 structures across Boulder County, mostly people's homes. Still, many houses survived the fast-moving flames and now stand alone on streets full of destruction.

Days later those homeowners have their own inconveniences, though nothing like what their neighbors are up against. On Monday, some of those homeowners described experiencing a wide range of emotions since the fire broke out, including fear, relief and even some guilt.

"We truly expected to see nothing," said Wendy Buffer.

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When the Marshall Fire tore through Louisville, Buffer had little hope for her home on Arapahoe Circle. On Friday, she found an unbelievable sight amidst unparalleled destruction. Her home, while smoke damaged and missing a few windows, was one of only two still standing on the street.

"We're joyful at that, but horrified for our neighbors and friends and families," Buffer said.

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Hilary Whiton is feeling that same combination of gratitude and guilt. While flames crept up to the gate next to her garage, they never made it further. She credits firefighters for saving her home, after the fire engulfed two others nearby.

"It's hard to feel happy when my dear neighbors lost everything," Whiton said.

On Monday, Whiton was working with Xcel to get power restored. After that, she planned to heat the home with donated space heaters and clear out refrigerators full of spoiled food.

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She predicted it may be a week before her home is ready to be lived in again but doesn't expect normalcy for some time.

"I think it's a community trauma," Whiton said. "I think, even though our houses are standing it is still trauma, and it's not just the fear that we went through, it's the loss of our community and our neighbors."

Wendy Buffer and her husband, who lost a vacation home to a wildfire years ago, plan to return as soon as they are allowed to. In the meantime, they've found a short-term rental.

"I work in this community, and I want to be there for these families," she said.
Rather than leave, they plan to dig in and help build up their community once again.

"We're hoping that we can become that spot where if they need to land while they work through repairing and replacing their homes, that we can do that for them," Buffer said.

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