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Black Forest Fire Victims Return To School Spared By The Fire

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Wolford Elementary School in the Black Forest Fire burn area (credit: CBS)

Wolford Elementary School in the Black Forest Fire burn area (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Students in the Colorado Springs area who didn’t even know if they would have a school for a while this summer headed back there for the first day of classes on Monday.

At one point, Edith Wolford Elementary School was in the line of flames during the historically destructive Black Forest Fire. Nearly 500 homes burned in the fire in June northeast of Colorado Springs. On Monday, the students headed back to class.

Edith Wolford Elementary School survived the fire with little damage, but for a moment many Black Forest residents thought the school building was destroyed completely.

For 9-year-old James Doty it means getting back to a familiar place.

“I saw the school, I almost started weeping, I was so happy,” James said.

James’ mother Kim says the family has been through a lot this summer. Their home was destroyed in the Black Forest Fire. For them, having Wolford to come back to brings with it a sense normalcy.

“It felt familiar and comforting and just wonderful,” Kim Doty said.

Other than some charred bricks on the side of the building the playground was the only part of the school damaged by the fire.

Initially, Principal Bob Wedel said he thought they’d lost everything.

“Just seeing where it had burned up to the school in places; to see how it just simply was so hot it just melted pieces of the playground,” Wedel said. “And then to see how devastating it was all around us, it just seemed like a miracle that the school was fine.”

The Dotys are excited to have a lot of new things in their life, but being back at school, they say they’re thankful to have a little piece of their old life back.

“I was very happy that we are not alone,” James said.

The school district got brand new playground equipment. They were able to get it installed and inspected just days before students returned to school.

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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