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Homeowners Hope Sandbags Will Prevent Flooding In Black Forest

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Sandbags in the Black Forest Fire burn area (credit: CBS)

Sandbags in the Black Forest Fire burn area (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Homeowners in the Black Forest Fire who are in the midst of trying to salvage items from their burned homes are now trying to protect what is left from flooding.

Alan Havens and his girlfriend Michelle Andree ran an excavation business for 20 years on the property that also holds their home. Everything on their land was torched in the fire last month.

“There are days when I can be up here and be at peace and there’s days where I’m in tears. And there’s days when I can’t be here,” Andree said.

“We have to rebuild from nothing.”

There are now 120 sandbags set up in a line on the property. Havens and Andree hope that will keep water from rushing down the burn-scarred hill and further complicate their cleanup effort.

“Normally we had pine needles on the ground that kept the erosion down and would hold back the water and allow it to soak into the ground,” Havens said.

Havens said he is working on trying to sell everything he can that might still have value in the piles of items that were burned or partially burned, even if it comes at an awful loss.

A diamond cutting wheel is among the more heavily damaged items.

“It was once worth about $1,000 or maybe $1,500. It is now (worth) maybe 10 cents,” Havens said.

Despite the challenges, the couple, who is living in a mobile home nearby temporarily, says they will try to get their business going again.

And as the process of sifting through the remains continues, sentimental memories are all around Havens and Andree. Too many can’t be replaced, such as Havens’ 1951 Cadillac, which used to belong to his grandfather.

“I was going to put it in the parade this year for the Black Forest festival,” Havens said.

One of the things destroyed in the fire was also the ashes of Havens’ first wife.

“She wanted to be on this property,” Havens said.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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