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TELLING OF TRAUMA Hannah Rowton (12) interviews Superintendent Dr. Rob Anderson about the Marshall Fire on Feb. 18.

History, repeated

Superintendent Rob Anderson recalls losing parents’ home to fire, relates to Marshall Fire

My home was in the evacuation zone, and I had gone up to Winter Park to ski with my family. I was actually in the gondola when my phone started to ring. At first I was concerned, but didn’t understand at the time what a serious event this was going to turn out to be. 

It’s been incredibly hard right? You know on the one hand, I’m a superintendent. On the other hand I’m a dad, I’m a friend, I’m a community member. I think that when you see people you care about have to go through such a tragedy, it’s painful. I don’t know any other way to describe that. We know families who lost everything.

When I was 20 years old, my parents’ house burned down. So I unfortunately have lived through the trauma that a fire can bring to a family. It’s incredibly painful to watch people we care about go through this, and remembering my own experience and having to deal with that is really, really hard. 

I have healed from my personal experience, but it’s hard because I know what it’s like. These weren’t your typical fires. No, these were ‘melt through your fireproof safe’ kind of fires. In my home there were things they could salvage and could clean, though that was a painful thing to do. But folks went from having everything to having zero. My heart goes out for those families and for those kids. I remember that pain, and that gave me some perspective. 

There’s still lots of unknowns. I know that lots of families are in different places. Some folks had to move out of town, some were lucky enough they found a place here. Our hope is to continue to prioritize this and not forget about what our families and kids have gone through and provide them the support they need until they don’t need it anymore. This doesn’t end on the last day of school.

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