GOLD HILL, Colo. (CBS4) – A year ago Monday firefighters were waging a frantic battle in Boulder County against the Fourmile fire. Investigators believe it started in a fire pit where a resident was burning scrap wood.
Winds were gusting to 60 miles per hour and the flames grew quickly that day. The fire would scorch 6,000 acres and destroy 169 homes. Only two homes have been completely rebuilt and a total of 45 building permits have been issued.
Now, as far as the eye can see, there are burned out trees punctuated by the occasional empty building foundation. But residents of Sunshine Canyon gathered on Labor Day to relax and remember what they were going through one year ago.
“A whole lot happier; my business is still here and my house is still there. It’s a lot better day,” Chief Chris Finn with the Gold Hill Fire Department said.
Now in the canyon there are signs that some of those who lost everything are starting over. One woman’s house was spared by the fire, but last month a devastating mud slide caused a lot of damage to her home and property and she’s still cleaning up.
“I’m sad for everyone who lost their homes and the rebuilding process is so slow. My friends who are rebuilding are just very discouraged at how long it takes,” the woman said.
Some places appear frozen in time from a year ago. That, perhaps, is good for Gold Hill. The historic town has been able to weather another chapter — barely.
“I think it’s still kind of sewing itself back together a little bit, but a year later things are obviously not so on the surface as they were this time last year,” Gold Hill resident Kurt Leverentz said.
There are signs of rebirth, not just in the rebuilding, but in a desolate land with nature struggling to make a comeback.
If there are hard feelings over the man who is deemed responsible for starting the fire, they’re hard find. No criminal charges were filed and there have been no lawsuits against him.