BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The FEMA-coordinated clean-up in the Marshall Fire recovery area just started Monday, April 18. Fire survivors can choose to use the government-funded service or foot the bill themselves.

The question is: What will save them precious rebuilding time? 

Officials say it takes four days to clear each devastated lot, but one family who decided not to wait for government aid said they’re still cleaning, and it’s day 24.  

Bonnie Smith loved the view from her Boulder County home of 53 years. 

“You really aren’t thinking [in that moment],” Bonnie recalled. “Everything I had was in that house.” 

The home they built from scratch was destroyed in the Marshall Fire.  

“I miss pictures. I miss those kinds of things,” Bonnie said.  

Bonnie is 92, so her son David is helping her rebuild. They chose the private demolition option. David is taking issue with FEMA’s timeline because it’s taken him nearly a month to clear his one-acre lot.  

“I talked to one of the representatives about that. He said, ‘Four days, no problem.’ He said what I’m doing ‘is called the Wild Wild West. Good luck’. And I said, ‘OK, if that’s the way you feel like, I wish you luck also.’ I’m getting stuff done.”

He doesn’t have to wait but granted he also has to pay for everything out of pocket. He estimated this demolition will cost between $50,000-$60,000 — not to mention almost $7,000 for the title and tags for his mom’s used RV where she will reside in the meantime. They know this process favors those with money.  

Meanwhile, Bonnie is making plans, and despite the orange fencing and cones, she’s still enjoying the view.  

“I know they’re struggling,” Bonnie said. “So I would like to be the first flower garden on this property.”

David is encouraging homeowners to document their demolition process so neighbors know what to expect.