‘What Do We Do Now?’
Retired electrical engineer Barry Timmons and his wife relocated to Colorado to be closer to family, and lived in the Parkside neighborhood of Colorado Springs for three years before the Waldo Canyon Fire claimed his home.
"It's just a nice area, it was a nice little home," Timmons says. "It was very conducive to us being a retired couple."
The police came around to issue evacuation notices that Saturday, June 23rd, he recalls. "I told my wife I'm not going anywhere until I finish my pizza and ice cream," he says with a laugh. "So I did that, and then we left."
They went to stay with their daughter in the Fountain area, and Timmons says they could see the fire on the side of the mountain.
In the coming days, the evacuation notice was lifted for a few hours. Timmons went back to get a picture his wife, an artist, had done. But Timmons says the roadblocks were already back up, and he was told he could get the picture the next day.
"Well, bam, that didn't happen," he remembers. "The next day the fire hit."
Like many, he saw the aerial photo published in the Denver Post. That's when he says he realized the extent of the damage. "I could see that our particular area, our particular neighborhood, Parkside Homeowners Association, it was just white with just black foundations. Everything was just completely gone."
Parkside HOA has 178 homes in that subdivision, says Timmons. "We lost 79% of those homes, completely destroyed. That's pretty devastating."
At the time they moved to Parkside, Timmons and his wife were done moving. He says they'd moved around a lot, and this is where they were going to stay. But that was before the fire.
"What do you do with this? What do we do now? Do we go find a little townhouse someplace else, or do we rebuild?"
Timmons says he prayed a lot.
"I'm a Christian, I had to really rely on the Lord," he says. "Are we supposed to do this? Are we not supposed to do it? The relationship to our family, our daughters, granddaughter, what should we do? A lot of prayer went into that, because I had to do a lot of soul searching."
When he was invited to be on the HOA board to help facilitate rebuilding efforts, Timmons says he prayed on that as well.
"I knew what I was getting into," he says. "And I knew that if I had taken that position on the board, I was going to be faced with committing to this neighborhood, committing to rebuilding, committing to making this huge step. And that was psychologically tough, but I look back on that, and I'm glad we did."
Timmons says the infrastructure had to be completely rebuilt, calling it, "part of a huge puzzle, all part of a big equation you had to put together with a lot of people."
He says there are many people to be thanked for their efforts, from those involved with Colorado Springs Together, to builders and landscapers, and many more.
As of now, five years later, Timmons says there are only two vacant lots in the HOA.
"That's really something," he says. "When you look back on all this and see the neighborhood, I can look at it all now and say, 'Gee, all this was accomplished.' It's amazing. It's amazing what people have done."
Listen to the story from Barry Timmons in the player above.
This story comes from 91.5 KRCC's special series, "Five Years Later: Remembering the Waldo Canyon Fire." Find more stories from those affected by the fire here.
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