GRANBY, Colo. (CBS4) – As some Grand County residents are allowed return home and assess the damage caused by the East Troublesome Fire, others without a place to return to are helping.

“We got to pull together as a community. That’s why I’m going up to help plow snow. There’s nothing I can do at my place, but I can at least help other people get into there’s and save from the frozen pipes,” said Travis Busse.

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(credit: Travis Busse)

Busse owns the iconic Winding River Ranch. He returned Thursday to find the only thing that survived on the 249 acres was his front-end loader. On Monday, he went to get it and help plow the way for his neighbors to get back.

“I got to get to my ranch to get my plow for my loader because that’s what I’ll be plowing with because it’s a lot faster,” he said.

On Thursday, he was able to go back to help fire crews with hot spots. That was the first time he caught a glimpse of the ranch.

(credit: Travis Busse)

“Driving in was fine until I popped over the hill and it was total devastation. Just to see all the houses standing I had hope… then dropped in and everything was leveled. I knew there was nothing I could do; you know I was just there to help the fire department.”

He managed to snap a few photos, which showed just how hot the fire burned.

“It disintegrated the buildings. They are powder. The chimney is left…” he said. “It was so hot it melted my indoor arena that was 100 by 200 clear span and the beams were four feet tall.”

Busse was born and raised on the ranch. His grandmother bought the property in 1963.

“It means a lot to the whole community. It wasn’t just for us, everybody kind of felt what the place meant. You know, people have been married there. My grandma, you know, touched a lot of people there,” he said.

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Busse says he only had time to focus on saving his animals. He also grabbed a commemorative Grand Lake gun and a small safe. The rest he left behind.

(credit: Travis Busse)

“The memories of the ranch will be forever etched in our hearts and everybody else who had a piece of it, and knows winding river ranch,” he said.

He hasn’t had time to sit down and plan for what’s next, he’s still getting over the loss.

“I lost everything… lost the business. It didn’t go well with COVID, and now it destroyed the whole place to even make any money. It’s hard.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been setup to help Busse rebuild his business. He says he doesn’t know exactly when it will happen, but like many, he plans to start again.

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“It won’t be what it used to be but the views are still the same. Maybe a little skewed by the black trees.”

He says, so far, the support has been overwhelming.

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“There’s so much support I mean there’s been outreach from donations from people that I don’t even know.”

Jamie Leary