Black Forest Fire, One Year Later

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We were with Nigel Thompson the day he returned to his burned home. One year later, he showed us the progress on his new home.

We’re told permits have been filed to rebuild 200 of the 487 homes that burned. Forty to 50 homes have already been moved into; another 150 homes are in the process of being rebuilt.

Thompson told 11 News the last year has been a lot of ups and downs. A year ago, his home had burned down and pretty much had nothing left. Now, their new home is about a month away from being completed.

“Come on in, as you can see, it's almost finished," Thompson said as he showed us his new home.

We also met up with Thompson at Black Forest Regional Park, where many of his neighbors were marking the one-year anniversary of the fire with an ice cream social hosted by the El Paso County commissioners.

One year ago Wednesday, the fire started and later consumed Thompson’s home.

"Overall, I didn't know what to expect...obviously I haven't done this before but it's been really, really hard at times just psychologically," Thompson said. "I keep thinking about things that I collected of the kids, things like that, that are gone and it's gone forever."

We were with Thompson the day he returned to what was left of his home for the very first time. It’s the home where he and his wife raised their four children.

"Everywhere you look, it's just gone," Thompson told us last year while driving up to his burned property for the first time.

For the last year, the Thompson family has been living in a trailer on their lot while their home is being rebuilt. Thompson said he’s is excited to get out of the trailer, and is hoping the house will be ready on time, in about a month.

"It's been an interesting year to say the least," Thompson said.

Thompson tells me it has been a bit surreal to live on the lot while their new home is being built.

He said it doesn't quite feel like their home just yet, but he says that will probably change once they actually move in.

Residents also marked the Black Forest Fire anniversary Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new park now underway in the Black Forest area. Located at Black Forest Road and Shoup Road, it will be called Log School Park. The park will have a playground, and as a nod to the community's history, a pavilion built from the timber of trees burnt during the fire.

We talked to a couple at the groundbreaking who had been evacuated last year.

"It's good to see people come out and support something like this," Sharon Fulton said.

"There is a tradition here of community events and I’m sure this will become one that happens again on the anniversary of the fire each year," Ken Fulton added.

The park will cost about $100,000. Almost half of that money has been donated by the Red Cross. El Paso County approved a $25,000 grant to assist in the construction. We’re told the park will be done by mid-August.