LA VETA, Colo. (CBS4)– Residents in a large swath of Southern Colorado near La Veta Pass must decide whether to give up or rebuild after one of the largest fires in this state’s history.
The Spring Fire devastated some 109,000 acres and destroyed 141 homes. A man from Denmark who overstayed his visa has been charged with accidently setting the fire.
A once majestic panorama is now scarred by the site of burned trees and homes that have been destroyed.
Tracy and Dick Wetzler surveyed the damage to their home.
“This is what we have left for now,” she told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.
What had been Tracy and Dick Wetzler’s dream house after moving to Colorado 16 years ago from IIlinois is now gone.
“This was my husband’s Lincoln town car,” she said as she pointed to the ash covered vehicle.
The Spring Fire, also known as the Spring Creek Fire has taken away their possessions, but not their spirit.
“This is awful, but it’s still home so we want to come back,” she emphasized with no doubt in her voice or mind.
The blaze roared through here consuming more than 100,000 acres making it one of the state’s biggest ever recorded . Tracy was at work and urgently called her husband at home in Forbes Park.
“Get out, doesn’t matter what you have, don’t have, just get out,” Tracy recalls telling her husband.
They got out, but could bring little with them. So they have had to salvage what they can.
A small heart shaped item was in the pile of items recovered. She read what it said on the top,
“This little box is filled with lots of love love from me to you always here to comfort you when you feel blue.”
It seems fitting that some mementos survived when so much around them did not.
There were some homes that were spared, but what was a dense forest is now desolation around them.
Volunteers have moved in to clear out trees and remove debris from the homes. They are
from what’s called Team Rubicon made up mainly of veterans.
Mark Ambrose one of the volunteers put their motives clearly.
“Being able to help people on their worst day is payment enough for me.”
The impossible now seems possible according to Tracy, “Well they’ve given me hope because five days ago I looked at it and my husband and I said, ‘No way we can do this.”
Tracy not only lost her home, but so did her parents. The Spring Fire devoured their house and all around it, but left their flags still standing.
LINK: Team Rubicon
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Colorado Wildfire section.
Wildfire Photo Galleries