SUPERIOR, Colo. — To celebrate the 77th birthday of Elsie Chavez, her family had planned to gather at their compound in Old Town Superior, where five generations lived in five homes – neighbors as well as family.
The Marshall Fire changed all that when it swept through Superior and Louisville, burning hundreds of homes, including those of the Chavez family.
It was a legacy of 70 years, gone in an instant.
"It's crazy to build something so well and see it gone. So fast," said one of the family members, Trevor.
Family gatherings look different now, crowded into a living room in a different home. Even though the Chavez compound is gone, Elsie's birthday celebration went on, surrounded by family and those who have become family.
"We just have to go on. It is tough. Four years ago, I lost my husband, and we were like this," said Elsie, holding up two fingers close together. "That was tough. So I just think this is a new beginning. Maybe this was supposed to be."
5 generations of family rely on one another after Marshall Fire
What's supposed to be, even though the baby of the family won't ever know what the five Chavez homes looked like.
"This is our fifth generation right here," said Elsie's son, Ted. "And we want to leave it to them. Yes, we do."
Below, the Chavez family sifts through the rubble of their homes in the days after the Marshall Fire.
They want to rebuild what they lost and stay together. But for now, they celebrate -- the family's way of moving forward.
As the birthday party started to break up, there were hugs and laughter and gratitude for what really matters.
"I told you," said Mike to Elsie, "the most important thing we got out of there is you."
"Thank you," Elsie said. "All right, mijito. Be careful. God bless you."
9NEWS will continue to share the stories of the Chavez family and others as they each navigate the journeys to find their ways back home.
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