"Those memories are not here anymore because of everything that happened," Appel told 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark.
That spot on the aptly named Broadview Circle was their dream. A quiet spot to watch the thunderstorms move through and the snow to come over the Divide.
Now it's all black. The green shoots of grass coming through the ashy ground are the only visible living things.
"It's not even the same place," Appel said. "It's like I'm walking into a different world."
His wife, Ann, loved the world that was here. She helped design the house they built more than 20 years ago.
She was here on that Monday, March 26th, when the fire swept up the ridge.
Ann called 911 to report smoke at 2:34 p.m.. A dispatcher calmly told her that the fire was five acres and growing with crews on the way.
The prescribed burn set on March 22nd by the State Forest Service was burning closer.
The North Fork Fire commander ordered evacuations at 4:56 p.m.
The reverse notification call that should have reached Ann did not because the alert system had her home incorrectly listed as being in Morrison, miles away. But the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office acknowledges that by the time the calls were placed to the evacuation area, at 5:23 p.m., the Appel home had likely already burned.
Other neighbors were warned in person by a firefighter. That firefighter, discovering a chain across the Appel driveway and a heavy canopy of trees overhead, decided not to continue to the house. The Appel family previously released a written statement saying the chain was a security measure used at the suggestion of the Sheriff's Office following a burglary and that walking to and from the house from the chain would have taken three minutes.
The Lower North Fork Fire killed three people and damaged 27 homes.
Scott Appel says his wife was "without question" willing and able to evacuate had she received warning.
"How could it possibly be that two hours, two and half hours would go by before there is a last minute warning that comes out, by whatever means, and people are running for their lives at the last minute?" Appel said.
Appel says he's frustrated by the comments of officials "covering their tracks", but politely declined to elaborate.
He says their property was insured but that the insurance will not be able to make him whole on the property.
"I think the thing most people don't realize is that you can't insure the land itself," Appel said.
Appel has been invited to speak before a state legislative committee Monday considering a proposal by House Republicans to establish a commission to determine if the state is liable for the fire damages, and pay compensation likely in excess of the state's liability cap of $600,000. The proposal does not permanently lift the cap, but rather works around it.
Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has repeatedly declined to take a position on increasing compensation for fire victims. A spokesman called the Republican plan "knee-jerk" and an attempt "to politicize an already tragic situation."
"There's no question in my mind the moral thing to do would be to take ownership of what happened and to make it right," Appel said.
Appel says he is just beginning to decide how he will start over.
"That's the big unanswered question," Appel said. "Because all these folks up here are in a tough spot. And it's not because of something they did wrong."
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)