Poudre Canyon mudslide destroys a cabin that's been in a family more than 30 years

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Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 22:49:05-04

DENVER — More than three decades ago, Douglas Sjogren built a cabin in the Black Hollow neighborhood in Poudre Canyon for his family and the generations to come. He died in 2016, but his family carried on traditions that were washed away Tuesday when a mudslide destroyed the home.

Brita LaTona called the cabin a sanctuary. She said growing up she loved making s'mores, hiking, and fishing with her family.

She pointed to photos of her grandfather in the 1980’s working on the cabin. It was where he spent his weekends during summer and fall with his wife Joyce Sjogren.

Last year, the Cameron Peak fire nearly destroyed the cabin. For months, LaTona said her family worried as the fire came within 100 yards of the cabin. She said firefighters worked around the clock and saved their home twice.

The fire left a burn scar that fueled a deadly flash flood Tuesday evening. One woman was killed, three people are missing and five homes were destroyed.

LaTona said a neighbor called her grandmother and broke the news.

“Basically told her that our cabin was gone,” LaTona said. “She was crying on the phone, I mean, my sister and I were too.”

Memorabilia and memories were buried in the rubble. When Joyce Sjogren assessed the damage, she spotted their red chair on top of a pile of debris.

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This image shows a before/after of the Latona family cabin following Tuesday's mudslide in Larimer County.

“My grandma said that it was ten times worse than she had even imagined,” LaTona said.

LaTona was planning to drive out and stay at the cabin the night of the mudslide, but she changed her mind when she was alerted of the potential weather danger. She said she's grateful she listened to her instincts.

Clean-up is expected to take weeks, if not months, and search efforts continue for the three missing people.

“Just heart-wrenching and so devastating for any families to go through that,” LaTona said.

LaTona dreamed of someday taking her kids up to the cabin to share the experiences she had there as a kid and an adult, but now that future looks murky. She said rebuilding could take years.

“It won’t ever be the same and I think we are all still processing that,” LaTona said.