After the Marshall Fire, Households with Fewer Financial Resources Are Falling Behind

Fifteen months ago, the Marshall Fire swept through Boulder County, Colorado, killing two people and destroying 1,084 homes—making it the most destructive wildfire in state history. Since the fire, Boulder County has progressed toward recovery, with nearly all of the destroyed structures demolished and their lots cleared. As of March 24, 2023, the three local governments coping with fire recovery have issued 440 rebuilding permits to allow for construction to begin, and a handful of families have even moved back home.

These signs of recovery are encouraging and should be celebrated, but past disasters teach us that recovery is a long, uneven process. To better understand who rebuilds quicker (and why) during the recovery process, we surveyed Marshall Fire survivors in two waves—at six months and a year after the disaster. We found that in the three communities coping with fire recovery, those with higher incomes were more likely to have the resources to rebuild and are rebuilding more quickly. Read more about JPB Fellow Katie Dickinson’s research.