LOUISVILLE, Colorado – The Marshall Fire burned more than 6,000 acres in Boulder County, destroying more than 1,000 homes and businesses. The flames reached the front doors of Ascent Community Church in Louisville and filled the building with smoke and ash, church officials said.
Fortunately, the fire did not burn the building that houses the church, but it surrounded the property. The smoke and ash rendered the building uninhabitable and forced the church to hold their services at the Omni Hotel.
“Churches across the Front Range have contacted us, saying we know you are at the epicenter of this, what can we do to help you?” Ascent Community Church senior pastor Bill Stephens said.
Stephens said they have been operating Ascent Community Church from their current location for about eight years. He said it is designed as a space for the whole community to use.
Stephens said countless members of the community have reached out to see how they can help them in the aftermath of the blaze. On Saturday, they invited anyone willing to come and help them clean up, as long as they wear a mask and gloves.
“What we’re trying to decide now is what can we keep? And what should we throw away? What can we wipe away and try to save? We’re going to put everything in storage bins, and then they’re going to wash everything, wash all the rafters, to make it a safe place, âStephens explained.
Stephens estimated that 300 people came during the day to help them in their efforts. Many of them were not part of the congregation.
âI’m just glad they’re here. I was here Thursday and there weren’t a lot of volunteers. I felt a little lonely, but now it’s great to see so many people, âsaid one of the volunteers, Bob Weiss, who said cleaning up the church was personal to him because he knew Stephens.
Stephens said his own family lost their home in the Marshall fire. He said they watched their neighborhood burn on television while in Washington.
âIt’s as difficult as anything I’ve been through,â Stephens said. âIt’s real. And that’s what every person faces. We all have our stories. I checked with the people in our church who lost their homes, and our neighbors who lost their homes. house … We’re going to go through this together and we’ll each do one step at a time together.
Stephens said 17 homes in his congregation were set on fire.
Those at Ascent Community Church hope to be able to return to their building in one to two months.