All other Adventist members and area churches are safe, leaders reported.
Massive wildfires raged through the Front Range near Denver, Colorado, United States, on December 30, 2021, causing incredible devastation in parts of Superior and Louisville. According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s office, 991 structures have been destroyed.
Avista Adventist Hospital was evacuated as the fires closed in.
“All patients were safely transferred to two of our sister facilities, and some were discharged from the hospital. All associates at this time have also been evacuated,” the hospital reported on its Facebook account.
According to a KUSA 9News television reporter who was providing updates from the hospital parking lot on the evening of December 30, the fire reached the edge of the parking lot; however, first responders made a stand and prevented the hospital complex from catching fire.
Several Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) church members and their families live in the areas affected by the wildfires and were forced out of their homes, some with very little notice.
Boulder Seventh-day Adventist Church associate pastor Jay Murdoch reported to Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director, that “everyone in the Boulder church has been accounted for and is safe.”
Twin Peaks Seventh-day Adventist Church was also in an evacuation zone. Tim Jones, the church’s pastor, informed Mallory that the church was to the north of the fire and was currently safe.
Mallory, commenting on behalf of RMC, said, “Our hearts ache for those affected by the wildfires, and I want to ask all to keep this matter in prayer.”
On December 31, sunrise brought to light the full extent of the damage throughout Superior and Louisville after firefighters fought to contain the blaze in Boulder County. It also confirmed the fears of some families that their house was gone, while others tried to get information any way possible on their property.
One family of the Boulder church lost their home in the fire. Others discovered their houses, against all odds, had survived.
Adventist leaders reported that they are organizing to help those who lost everything in the fire that leveled several neighborhoods near Denver. Adventist churches in the area are safe, leaders reported. [Photo: Diane Johnson, Rocky Mountain Conference News]
Avista Adventist Hospital was spared from the fire that destroyed surrounding neighborhoods, but the burn scar shows the fire came very close to the hospital’s oxygen tanks. [Photo: Avista Adventist Hospital]
“Survival was literally a matter of minutes and inches. The winds were so fierce and the smoke so thick that one wrong turn could have been deadly,” Mark Johnson, Boulder church member, said.
At a morning press conference on December 31, Colorado governor Jared Polis said Avista Adventist Hospital would be out of commission for days or weeks.
Avista CEO Isaac Sendros told ABC’s Good Morning America television program, “I’ve never experienced anything like this. Every neighborhood around us was in flames.”
Later in the afternoon of December 31, Sendros sent an email to hospital employees and partners explaining the situation.
“There is ash and soot in many parts of the building. Our re-opening will require ongoing assessment and extensive collaboration with public authorities and utilities in the coming days and weeks to ensure safety for you and our patients.” He went on to explain that the fire came within four feet of the large oxygen tanks the hospital uses.
Emergency shelters remain open for families needing a place to stay.
Pastors and ministry leaders from the community assembled at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette on December 31 to encourage, pray, and discuss what their churches can do to help the community recover.
Newday Seventh-day Adventist Church in Parker encouraged members, in a late December 31 email, to bring water, hygiene essentials, and pet food to community donation points to assist individuals who are beginning the recovery process.
The original version of this story is based on several reports posted by the Rocky Mountain Conference.