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Turning Tragedy into Possibility: Salvaging Urban Wood from the Marshall Fire

It was Dec. 30, 2021, and my wife Cara and I were enjoying our first visit to Hawaii with some close friends. Mid-morning, our phones started buzzing with news updates from home. A wildfire of all things – in December? 

We watched the news in shock, as the fire grew … and spread … and spread. In a matter of hours, fierce winds whipped up the fire, driving it to consume hundreds of acres. Out-of-control flames raced toward the communities of Broomfield, Louisville and Superior outside Boulder, spurring massive evacuations. By the time it was over late the next day, 1,100 structures and 6,200 acres had burned in the fast-moving fire – now the most destructive fire event in our state’s history. 

We grieved along with the rest of our fellow Coloradoans, and were sad to learn later that three of our friends lost homes in the fire. We felt at a loss to do anything to help. 

Salvaging Ash Logs from the Fire 

A few months later, we got a call from our friend Paul Donovan of Donovan Arborists in Denver. Since we specialize in working with urban logs, we were his first call after his team removed a series of logs from several properties in the Marshall Fire burn area. 

After spending time in the scorched landscape, Paul wanted to find a way to put this wood to good use and to commemorate the tragedy that had occurred. 

We milled the Ash logs into both slabs and dimensional lumber, 4/4, 6/4 and 8/4. Much of the wood shows no indication of having been through a fire, but some of the boards bear blackened, charred live edges, reminding us of the intensity of this destructive event.

Burned Ash Tree from the 2021 Marshall Fire

From Ashes to Art  

This month, we’re sharing this story and offering this beautiful Ash wood at a discount, hoping to encourage creativity and artistic reuse of this wonderful urban wood. 

So far, we’ve seen a lot of excitement from customers seeking to build furniture, shelving and art pieces with this special wood. 

To honor the brave firefighters who risked their lives to protect people and property from this deadly fire, we will donate a percentage of our sales this month to the Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District and plan to continue to find ways to give this Ash lumber a second life. 

Thanks for your interest and support of our local business,