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'I want to be home': Marshall Fire victims protest lawsuit as clean-up efforts are delayed

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Posted at 9:25 AM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 10:03:17-04

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — More than two months after the Marshall Fire destroyed their neighborhoods, victims protested Saturday as cleanup efforts remain delayed amid legal battles.

Dozens of current and former residents of Louisville and Superior met at the Louisville Arboretum — still charred from the blaze — to rally.

“I long to go home,” said Melanie Glover, who lived with her family in Superior when the fire hit. “Every time we drive up and down the area, I want to be there. I want to live there. I want to be home.”

The planned cleanup is on hold after a lawsuit was filed against Boulder County by a recently formed nonprofit called DIGS, which stands for Demanding Integrity in Government Spending. It was incorporated by Michael Brown, who led FEMA under President George W. Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The lawsuit filed by Brown and DIGS accuses county commissioners of violating the Colorado open meetings law and improperly convening executive sessions to discuss its contract with DRC Emergency Services for the cleanup project. The lawsuit seeks an injunction from the court to delay the county from finalizing the contract.

Attorney Chad Williams representing DIGS sent Denver7 the following statement in regards to the protest:

"There is no injunction currently and there is no delay to date due to my client’s request for one. Injunctions are extraordinary and rare. If the Court agrees with our motion for an injunction, it will be because Boulder County’s bidding process violated Colorado law to the detriment of its citizens."

“[The lawsuit] is not what we want,” said Tawyna Somauroo, who lost her home in Louisville. “We want equipment, digging on our properties and hauling away toxic ash now. We have no idea if it’s going to start even by summer because it takes a long time to litigate something like whether a contract was awarded correctly. And that has caused so much stress in this community.”

The families at the protest said the long wait is causing them deeper pain as they hope to return home and rebuild their lives.

“It was a pretty tough decision to bring our 8-year-old to our home, or where our home used to be,” said Reina Pomeroy, who lost her home in Louisville and serves as president of the Marshal Together organization. “We found a copy of Charlotte’s Web on top. It was charred and burned. Yeah, it was really hard for him to see. We haven’t brought our 2-year-old to the house.”

“I don’t drive down McCaslin and I don’t drive down via Appia with my children, because they get upset,” Somauroo said. “I mean, it’s like a hellscape out there. And it’s crushing for our morale to see it.”