A foundation of recovery
For victims of the Coal Seam Fire, rebuilding their lives has been primarily a psychological task.Now it’s becoming physical as well.Slowly but surely, a new house is taking shape at Troy Gordon’s property on Highway 6&24 in West Glenwood. It’s the first rebuilding work to take place in the area since the June 8 fire, which destroyed 29 homes.The basement concrete that has gone up at Gordon’s home stands as something of a foundation for the reconstruction of an entire neighborhood. But according to Gordon, he’s hardly a pioneer when it comes to deciding to rebuild.”Some other people aren’t too far behind” in getting going on reconstruction of their homes, he said.”I think our main focus was to get back to life as normal as possible,” said Gordon.For Gordon, that also includes going ahead with plans to marry Michel Field. The two have been together for a decade, and have been planning a fall wedding, which Gordon thought would have to be postponed following the loss of his home.”There’s no reason to change everything,” he reasoned later. “We just wanted to try to get things back to normal as quick as possible.”For Gordon, achieving normalcy meant rebuilding rather than moving somewhere else.”I like the area. We definitely wanted to go back where we were at,” he said.His family has lived in the same area for almost 100 years, noted Gordon, whose mother, Janice George, and cousin, Craig Amichaux, also lost their homes in the Coal Seam Fire.”This is the first fire, so hopefully there’s never another one again,” he said.The same area had been threatened during the 1994 Storm King Fire, but while it claimed 14 firefighters’ lives, no homes were lost.”There’ll always be fires around but hopefully there’ll never be another like this one again,” said Gordon.Gordon said he plans no landscaping changes to increase defensible space in case of another fire. He thinks most homes in the area had been landscaped correctly for fire danger.”It was just a freak thing, I believe, that hopefully just won’t happen again. We have no plans to change anything or not plant trees or anything,” he said.For someone who lost his home to fire, Gordon was more concerned about the flood danger that has persisted in the Mitchell Creek area ever since the fire stripped slopes bare of vegetation and made the loose soils more susceptible to runoff.”I had a high degree of concern before we decided to rebuild,” he said.But after talking to several experts, “from what I could gather we weren’t in a real high-risk area,” he said.His home isn’t near the creek, or in a gulch that would be more flood-prone, he said.Although Gordon is rebuilding from the ground up, he’s not making major changes to his home. By and large, Gordon’s goal is to recreate what he once had.He said he plans a few minor changes. He had an unfinished basement, and decided to take out a loan to finish the new one.As an insurance adjuster himself for McMillan Claims Service in Glenwood, Gordon had worked with an agent to make sure he was properly covered in case of fire. And he was able to help expedite getting a claims payoff because he knew what the claims adjusters needed, such as the original house plans and square footage, “so that they could get us the money to get us our original house,” he said.Ironically, through his job, Gordon also has done a little work with others who suffered losses in the Coal Seam Fire.”I guess you get to see both sides of it,” he said. “It was kind of unique, going back to work and handling claims by others that were affected by it, too.”But Gordon’s been busy primarily dealing with his own setback and rebuilding process.He said he got started now in hopes of avoiding having crews building throughout the winter. He hopes to move in by January.It may be strange for a while, he said, with properties around him reduced to ashes and left vacant due to the fire. But he also knows most of his neighbors plan to rebuild.”I figure we’ll probably be more in a construction site than we will a burned-out area,” he said.
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