Monument Fire: A year later, residents rebuild
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - One year ago, one of the state's most devastating wildfires tore through the Huachuca Mountains, burning more than 30 thousand acres and destroying more than 60 structures near Sierra Vista. 9 On Your Side spoke to residents most impacted by the fire at the time. A year later, crews caught up with them to see how they're doing now.
A Restaurant's Recovery
Restaurant owner Angelika Gloyd lost her entire business when it burned to the ground during the second week of the Monument Wildfire. She sifted through the rubble of her restaurant, trying to salvage any sentimental pieces she could find. Her eyes glazed with tears, she spoke with 9 On Your Side's Jessica Chapin.
"I am so sorry that it just ended so quickly," she said. At the time, what worried her most was her connection to her customers. She didn't know if she could start again.
Gloyd hasn't set foot on the site since. But, her loyal customers still have a place to go. Relocated to Fry Blvd., Gloyd's business rose from the ashes four months later with the help of insurance money and a little extra.
"They were really happy to see me back in town," said Gloyd about her customers, "and they keep coming and shopping and they make me feel really really good."
As happy as she is to be back in business, she still can't bear to think about last year's destruction.
"I do still get emotional when I think about it. I was going to make a wall with some things that we found when we were there the last time, and I just haven't had enough strength to do that," she said, "I didn't know if I'd have enough stamina to try to do it again."
The loss of her restaurant was also a learning experience. Gloyd's insurance policy didn't cover enough, and she says she's not letting that happen again.
"We really went piece by piece so to speak to make sure that if anything happens that we would be adequately covered," she said.
Gloyd says she's happy she found the strength to start again, and is constantly reminded of the reasons why, by the generosity of her customers.
"we all have more strength than what we think," said Gloyd.
Another popular restaurant called Riccardo's was located next to Angelika's German Imports, and also burned entirely. Gloyd says they are in the process of rebuilding.
Houses not yet Homes
Residents are also re-assembling their lives and possessions a year later. Several are still in the process of rebuilding or settling with their insurance companies.
Dr. John Herrod lost his home in the fire. Though he moved to another house in the city, his home of 17 years where he raised three children still stands the same as the day flames tore through Ash Canyon. A burned-out car and rusted exercise equipment sit eerily on the deserted plot, surrounded by charred trees. He has yet to settle with insurers and doesn't know if he'll ever rebuild.
"Things have slowly gotten back to normal for most of us. Very few homes have been rebuilt in the area but they're starting to come back now," he said, "and I guess lives are somewhat normalized though it's a new normalcy for most of us."
His business was spared, and he says his work and the generosity of the community have been comforting during a difficult year.
"Your life is totally disrupted, suddenly you don't have anything. Say I want to go running and you don't have any tennis shoes, you want to do something and all the things that you used to have are no longer there," he said, "I was in a restaurant one day a day or two after the fire and the waitress came up and said someone paid for your meal. So the concern people had for us, that was good."
And even though a year is still not long enough for the community to fully recover from the emotional and physical damage of the fire, they look to the silver lining.
"No one was hurt," said Herrod, "In fact no one died in the whole fire so that's something that a lot of disasters don't have."
Fire officials have re-seeded thousands of acres and installed barricades to prevent future damage from flooding and the lack of vegetation. They say it will be several years before the land fully recovers.