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East Troublesome Fire victims rebuilding just more than a year after the deadly, devastating blaze

Diane Williamson rebuilt in 13 months
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Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 20:57:37-05

GRAND LAKE, Colo. — It’s been said tragic ends often lead to promising new beginnings.

“It’s really a fun shop, and the owners are wonderful people to work for,” said Diane Williamson, who recently took a job at Humphrey’s Cabin Fever home and gift store in Grand Lake.

Williamson’s story is certainly a testament to resilience and a fresh start.

“I’ve had a lot of family members, friends and even strangers that have helped me out,” Williamson said. "Denver7 paid off some of my credit cards, which helped a lot."

Williamson received some of the Denver7 Gives funds donated to our wildfire victim's assistance fund.

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Click here to go directly to the Denver7 Gives donation form then choose a campaign

We first met her back in November 2020 after the East Troublesome fire tore through Ground County, destroying more than 300 homes, including Williamson’s.

“I got a text from a girlfriend’s daughter who said, ‘Get out. And get out now!’" she recalled. "I left the doors unlocked and headed down the road.”

Yet in the face of that tragedy, Williamson never wavered.

“I feel like we have to look at this as a new adventure, and we will rebuild,” she said a year ago.

Williamson did just that. Thirteen months after that fire, she now has a new home.

“It was just before Thanksgiving, so it was a year and a month,” Williamson said of her move into her new home. “The house is the same square footage as the other, just laid out differently.”

Getting here wasn’t easy.

“When you’ve lost everything, you don’t realize what you miss until you reach for something and it’s not there,” Williamson said.

It took patience and perseverance.

“You’ve got to make quick decisions,” she said.

Take, for example, the kitchen cabinets she picked in a hurry.

“You had four colors to pick from, and some of the features I wanted weren’t there, but, hey – you know – I’m taking them," Williamson said.

She knows she’s fortunate. Others haven’t even started rebuilding.

“It was lucky that I found a builder,” Williamson said. “It’s something I never thought I deserved.”

A new job, a new house and a new chapter in a story that’s only just beginning.

“It’s home,” she said. “It’s really home.”

Denver7 features the stories of people who need help and now you can help them with a cash donation through Denver7 Gives. One hundred percent of contributions to the fund will be used to help people in our local community. In fact, during our recent visit with Diane Williamson, we also delivered a check to the Grand Foundation in the amount of $20,000 to help with long-term recovery.