SUPERIOR, Colo. (KDVR) — A group of volunteers is on a mission to give some hope back to victims of the Marshall Fire by sifting through the rubble to find any items or belongings that survived.
So far, volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse have sifted about a dozen homes out of roughly 200 that signed up for the free service.
“They’ll meticulously go through and, shovel by shovel, put the ash and debris through a sifter and just look for those things,” Bruce Poss, director for North American Ministries at Samaritan’s Purse said.
They look for anything that may have survived. However, they focus their search on specific items homeowners ask them to look for like jewelry, heirlooms and keepsakes.
“The other day, a team found a small wedding band,” Poss said.
Most recovered items are either metal or ceramic.
One of the volunteers sifting a property in Superior’s Sagamore neighborhood Wednesday morning told FOX31 he discovered ceramic artwork in the ashes. According to the volunteer, the homeowner’s children had made the pottery years ago as kids. He said both the homeowner and the volunteers wept at the discovery.
“It’s just things that may not, to someone else, may not be a lot of value but to that homeowner, it’s a priceless kind of thing,” Poss said.
At another property in the Sagamore neighborhood, the volunteers worked through the afternoon uncovering metal tools, glass bottles and a few pages with handwriting that the homeowner did not recognize.
“Really exceeded my expectations. Not only the effort that they did and how kind they are, but that they found a dang thing in, look at this disaster,” Mark Syers said.
Syers said he and his wife decided to sign up to have their home sifted because “I thought at least I’ll be able to look in the mirror and say we tried.”
The efforts uncovered at least two items that brought the homeowner to tears: an ax a childhood friend had made and gifted to him and a ceramic mug with a wizard sculpted into it that he got as a teenager.
“They may seem strange, but they mean a lot to me,” Syers said.
He said before the fire, he had not seen the mug in years.
“I lost track of it in the house. It was another piece that just goes back to when my mom and dad were still alive and it’s pretty important,” he said.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international organization that responds to disasters worldwide. In the U.S. volunteers deploy to help victims following hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires.
They plan to have volunteers in the Louisville and Superior area through February. Volunteers are a mix of locals and people who have traveled from out of state to help.
The organization is still looking for more volunteers to help sift through the remaining homes.