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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a press conference at the Boulder County Sheriff's Office on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Gazette)

State officials are working to provide relief for the thousands of Coloradans whose lives were upended by the Marshall fire, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history that burned 6,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and businesses in Boulder County.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis and his Cabinet members announced new and ongoing state efforts to help the victims of the fire recover. 

"I'm so proud with how the community has leapt into action," Polis said. "In these days and weeks after the fire, our top priority is to get Coloradans that were affected the resources they need to rebuild their lives." 

Polis said the state will provide tax relief to Coloradans impacted by the fire to give them more time on filing and payment deadlines. Details about the waived deadlines and what areas qualify are available at tax.colorado.gov

In addition, the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program has been authorized by President Joe Biden, providing up to 26 weeks of unemployment for those whose livelihoods were interrupted by the fire. This includes people who are self-employed and anyone who has lost work. 

$26.6 million-plus donated to victims of Marshall fire in Boulder County

Residents must apply for the claims by Feb. 2 at coloradoui.gov or by calling 303-318-9000. To apply, residents need a Social Security number and proof of income. 

For mental health needs, the state is establishing the Colorado Spirit Marshall Fire Crisis Counseling Program to provide community outreach crisis counselors to residents impacted by the fire. The counselors will offer anonymous crisis counseling, stress management, emotional recovery support and connections to other local resources.

"It would be impossible to overstate the impact this tragedy will have on the mental health of the Coloradans whose homes or businesses were damaged or lost," Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said. "This isn't a burden that you should have to shoulder yourself." 

How to help those affected by the Marshall fire

The program will be available to residents soon, Primavera said. Anyone who needs immediate mental health support can call the Mental Health Partners' Marshall fire response line at 303-413-6282 or Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255. 

On Monday, the state opened a disaster assistance center to help fire victims with filing claims for property loss, as well as providing financial and food assistance, hotel vouchers, mental health support and transportation. The center is in Lafayette at 1755 S. Public Road and will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day for several weeks.

As of Wednesday, 848 people have registered with FEMA for shelter assistance, said Public Safety Director Stan Hilkey. 

"While this fire has burned through the neighborhoods at a breathtaking speed, the recovery will take longer than any of us would like," Hilkey said. "The initial horrific fire was hard, but the additional hard parts are ahead of us." 

Insurance Commissioner Mike Conway asked those impacted by the fire to begin the insurance claim process immediately, calling it vital to their recovery. Under state law, insurance companies are required to pay homeowners 30% of the coverage of contents of the home if it was lost in the fire, he said. 

Conway also advised residents to take photos and videos of the damage to their homes and to document all receipts of home repairs and replacements for lost or damaged belongings. 

Human remains found in Marshall fire burn area; 2nd person still missing

After sparking on Thursday, the Marshall fire destroyed at least 991 structures and damaged another 127 in Superior, Louisville and unincorporated Boulder County.

Firefighters reached 100% containment on the perimeter of the blaze Monday evening, ending the fire's spread at 6,026 acres, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Crews expect to be done mopping up hot spots by the end of the week, said Vaughn Jones, wildland fire management section chief with the Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

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