CO wildfire aid drive gives $250,000 to wrong charity


Snow covers the burned remains of a shopping center after wildfires ravaged the area Sunday, Jan.2, 2022, in Superior, Colo. Investigators are still trying to determine what sparked a massive fire in a suburban area near Denver that burned neighborhoods to the ground and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and other buildings.

Associated Press

An Instagram fundraising drive intended to aid people affected by a Colorado wildfire instead mistakenly donated more than $250,000 to a Utah charity, organizers said.

In a post, the I-70 Things account on Instagram said it’s now working with the Utah charity to redirect the funds to Colorado wildfire victims.

“We mistook the Boulder Community Foundation for the Community Foundation in Boulder County,” the post reads. “We are sorry for this mistake.”

The campaign was intended to benefit the Boulder County Wildfire Fund, run by the non-profit Community Foundation Boulder County, KUSA reported.

The Instagram page had collected $266,189 from 8,960 donors by the evening of Jan. 1, according to the station. Pam Furches, secretary of the Community Foundation in Boulder County in Utah, was initially unaware of the accidental windfall.

“Oh no,” Furches told the station. “That is a major problem. But we absolutely, 100 percent, will sort this out.”

Organizers of the I-70 Things page said in a letter to Furches posted to the account that they had selected the tax identification number for the wrong nonprofit in directing the donations.

“It never occurred to me there was another foundation with a similar name in Utah,” the letter reads, apologizing for the “oversight and any inconvenience I have caused you.”

The letter thanks her for her assistance in redirecting the donations to the Colorado nonprofit.

In a post on its website, the Utah group said it is “committed to seeing that these funds are distributed to the correct party.”

The Marshall Fire near Boulder burned 6,219 acres, including nearly 1,000 structures, KDVR reported. Three people are missing and feared dead. It is now 62% contained.

The blaze, which began the morning of Dec. 30, forced hundreds to evacuate as high winds drove it out of control through several communities, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

“This fire is frankly a force of nature,” Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said, according to the publication.

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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