LOUSIVILLE, Colo. (KDVR) — The Marshall Fire that ripped through Boulder County a little less than two months ago destroyed homes and impacted indoor air conditions for people living in the area.
Directly impacted were Sean and Halley Burkhardt, who have lived at the Bell Flatirons apartment complex for three years. Halley said the fire came within 100 yards of their apartment and now they are dealing with the aftermath of ashes in their unit.
“When there was daylight we could see ash. Specifically in our bedroom,” Halley said.
At first, Halley tried to clean the ash off the blinds and out of the area under the HVAC unit, but she quickly learned it was toxic.
“Both my husband and I have had frequent headaches and dry throats,” Halley said.
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She said she’s emailed, called and visited the apartment complex office asking for professionals to come into the unit to clean the ash.
“I’ve asked them to replace the filters and check the attic space and the insulation up there but they haven’t responded to those requests,” Halley said.
She reached out to the Problem Solvers for help. She told us they have been trying to work with management at the complex for the last several weeks and they hit their breaking point by lack of response.
“We just wish they would prioritize our health and give us a response on what they are doing and make sure everyone is safe,” Halley said.
The couple even went to the extreme of getting a doctor’s note to sent to the complex to help justify the cleaning Halley said needed to happen.
She said they finally received a response from the complex on Friday, asking them to fill out a disability form in order to submit the complaint to corporate to try and get approval for the unit to be cleaned.
A spokesperson for Bell Apartments sent the following statement:
We understand it has been a difficult time with the after-effects of the fire throughout the region. We have worked closely with residents at Bell Flatirons who have come to us with concerns about smoke damage or health issues affected by the region’s air quality. We are willing to discuss potential options and accommodations with any resident who has questions or concerns.”
The spokesperson also said they provided replacement air filters “for the majority of units, including to any residents who specifically requested one.”
Halley said her unit never received a letter that management entered the apartment and changed the filter. She showed the Problem Solvers the door to their HVAC system where the filter would be replaced. It is locked and residents can’t open it.
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FOX31 sent that information to the spokesperson, who responded: “As part of going into the units to restart the utilities, we made many of the filter changes at that time. Residents were notified when management planned to restart their utilities but may not necessarily have received an individual notification of their filter change.”
Halley said they were trying to move out, but that seemed like a bigger mountain to climb.
“We were told we would have to pay a $3,600 penalty to break our lease, and on top of moving fees and the housing shortage, it just wasn’t feasible financially,” Halley said.
For now, she said they are relying on a self-purchased air filter they move throughout the unit until they can either get everything cleaned out or find a new place to live. The couple is also meeting with an attorney to help out.
“For the first week the air quality was at 0% and continues to change when the air unit runs,” Halley said.
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