Local author to share wildfire recovery, healing process

When Fran Rutherford’s home was destroyed by a wildfire, she and her husband adopted a new motto, “always forward, never back,” inspired by Saint Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary in the 1700s.

“By making progress and pushing forward, we were able to work through the grief,” she said of her family about losing their home in the Black Forest Fire in Colorado in 2013. “The grief is very real and you can become paralyzed by it. The important thing is to buckle down… It’s so important to move forward.”

Rutherford will share her experience of recovery, rebuilding and healing in support of victims of the Marshall Fire that destroyed homes in Louisville and Superior, Colo.

Catholic Charities of Denver is providing resources and free copies of Rutherford’s book “Rising from the Ashes: Disaster Recovery for the Homeowner.” The event is from 6:30-9 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 715 Cabrini Drive in Lafayette.

Rutherford will share practical and honest advice on how she and her husband, Larry, rebuilt her home within 14 months after the Black Forest Fire. At the time, Catholic Charities helped provide a shed they needed to protect their belongings from theft. They also provided gift cards and financial support. 

“In all fires and in other disasters, there’s a lot of blame to go around,” Rutherford shared. “Forgiveness is very important. Also, to accept what has happened without blaming God. We couldn’t get struck there. It keeps you from doing what you need to do. Your success in this is going to depend on your effort to move forward.”

Rutherford expressed a lot of sadness for victims of the Marshall Fire, but her message is one of encouragement and hope.

“It’s extremely sad when you lose everything,” Rutherford said, referring to local families. “The sadness is very real. I have a lot of empathy for the families impacted by this fire.”

Since the fire in December, Catholic Charities of Denver has provided families with rent assistance, as well as replacement tools for home-related businesses and auto repair. Gift cards were also distributed to aid the short-term recovery of victims. Case managers at Catholic Charities are providing long-term support as the families restart their lives. 

This is Catholic Charities’ first event where victims are invited to gather since the Marshall Fire.

Learn about the Marshall Fire response at ccdenver.org/marshallfire.