NEDERLAND - It started with a campfire and ended with eight homes in ruins and 500 acres burned near Nederland.
Exactly one year later signs of the destruction are still incredibly apparent.
Forests are filled with black trees void of leaves, and lots sit where homes used to stand.
The Cold Springs Fire was Colorado's most destructive in 2016, and firefighters say it was a couple of wind shifts away from being a lot worse.
“We really could have lost hundreds of homes and that not an exaggeration at all,” said Nederland Volunteer Firefighter Captain Eric Abramson. “It really could have gone the other way.”
Abramson estimates more than 350 homes could have been burned if the wind shifted for even an hour. One of the major victories for firefighters was at an area near Castle Rock.
The fire was making a run down into the canyon. Had firefighters not worked viciously to build fire lines there the fire would’ve made a run uphill and over a ridge that led to nearly 500 homes.
“Probably the most humble moment for me was after the fire was declared out and I kind of took in the investigation crew to the origin,” Abramson explained. “It was maybe seven days after the fire had ended but I went out there and it was really emotional because I'm standing at the point of stupidity. You know the point where these guys started a huge fire that destroyed a couple of people's lives.”
Of the eight families that lost homes at least two are still waiting to excavate the land they plan to rebuild on.
They didn’t want to go on record but say they’ve been living with friends for the past year.
Even though there are still signs of destruction, there are also ones of resilience. Several homes stand in the midst of burnt sticks, showing where firefighters were victorious in saving homes. A reminder of the strength of the Nederland community.
“Despite the despair I’m very proud,” Abramson said. “Proud of our firefighters and proud of this town.”
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