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GRANBY, Colo. — The East Troublesome Fire stands as the second-largest wildfire in Colorado’s history, burning more than 192,000 acres, destroying hundreds of homes and structures, and killing one couple.
Eight months later, the mountain’s burn scars are a painful reminder of what was lost.
"It's really sad. And walking through the dust and the dirt — it's hard," said resident June Matson.
That dust and dirt used to make up Matson’s home, where she had lived for 30 years. All that’s left are pieces of the foundation.
"And it's not the expensive things, you know. It's the things that hold memories: your kid’s things or your parent’s things or heirlooms. Things like that," she said.
Searching through the rubble of Matson’s neighbor’s home, volunteers with Colorado Baptist Disaster Relief try to find anything that could be left behind.
"We do sifting, looking for jewelry or anything that they might think that might survive," said Dennis Belz, state director for the Colorado Baptist Disaster Relief.
Hours of work under the sun paid off when they found a diamond ring in the ashes.
"When you find something that people really wanted to find and couldn’t and never thought they’d see it again, yeah, they get excited," Belz said.
After the search is done, the property is cleared out, at no expense to the homeowner and then it’s onto the next home.
Those costs are covered by the Grand Foundation, a local nonprofit.
Denver7 viewers stepped up when asked to help the victims of last year’s wildfires. They contributed more than $325,000 to fire victim relief through Denver7 Gives. Some of that will keep these volunteers working.
Thanks to the generosity of Denver7 Gives viewers, a $20,000 check was provided to help volunteers continue recovering in the area.
Even after losing it all, there’s faith and hope in starting over.
"It's bittersweet. It's the beginning of a new beginning because you have to get rid of the old to start again," Matson said.