Dozens of homes burning on live TV in Colorado Springs last week redefined fire, tragedy and loss.
Kathy Banich lost her home in the Fourmile Canyon fire; a home she worked on for more than 20 years.
Banich made her last payment on it right after the Fourmile Canyon fire burned everything to the ground.
"We were still working on it a month before the fire," Banich said. "We had just put up the gardens, just bought a barbeque, had redone our widows."
Banich contacted 9NEWS during the height of the High Park Fire in Larimer County. She wanted to share her story with the other fire survivors. She wants to let people know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"It was right over here where you've got all these burned trees," Banich described, as she looked over what's left of the forest. Black burned up trees stand as a reminder of the fire almost two years ago.
"I thought we were going to be pretty safe," Banich remembers.
The family did a lot of mitigation work around the home. They removed trees, cut down grass and installed fire-retardant siding.
"The wind was blowing so drastically that day," she said. "Within 40 minutes of receiving the first 911 call we were evacuating. The roar, the sound, I'll never forget it. And then the ash falling from the sky. You can't really breathe. You're running back and forth to the car. It's a terrible experience."
Banich knew that first day her home was gone. But this plot of land was home no matter what. The family decided to rebuild, while a few neighbors decided to move away.
"People were encouraging me to do counseling and stuff," she said. "I felt that oh no, I'm fine. And now looking back at it... We were in shock."
Banich said rebuilding was tough. Her husband John took on the role of a contractor while keeping a full-time job. She had to essentially become a single parent to her then 10-year-old daughter Megan, whose own struggles during this loss cannot be underestimated.
Banich said looking back, she took too much on. For those about to go through it now, she suggested getting friends or family to help find a temporary place to live. The stress of finding a new place can be too much.
The Banichs moved back into their new home about a week ago.
"We're back. We're back. We made it. We got here." she said. "Dragging our knuckles, but we're at the finish line."
The way Kathy looks at it, change is good.
"It's just beautiful down there," she said. "It's going to be so beautiful in the fall from now on. I can't wait."
The Banichs adjusted their home to accommodate their new aches and pains--the ones that come with age, Kathy joked. Instead of several floors, everything is now on the same level.
Kathy has advice for your friends and neighbors who are about to go through the same experience she just lived through.
"I sought out my spirituality," she said. "I had to try to find the good in it. I do believe things happen for a reason. Life gives us lemons sometimes, and we've just got to figure out what to do with them."
Banich said she was really disturbed by blogs that criticized fire victims for what they may or may not have done around their homes. Banich said her family spent a lot of money on fire mitigation, but nothing could've saved her home.
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