ELMORE COUNTY – The Elk Complex Fire, that for a long time was the number one priority fire in the nation, should be contained this weekend. And now, for the first time in several weeks, the areas near Lester Creek and Falls Creek are opened back up to the public.
In all, the fire burned 83 structures, 38 of which were either homes or cabins.
The fire burned hot and it burned fast. So fast that many people did not have adequate time to remove their property.
Up Falls Creek and Lester Creek Roads, homes and cabins that once stood tall have been reduced to nothing, appliances only a shell of what they once were.
Because of how hot and fast the fire burned things that should have been destroyed, somehow escaped.
Our KTVB crew found just a few homes, that for whatever reason, are still standing.
An A-frame cabin had the trailer right next to it reduced to its frame, but it still stands. Another example is a plastic horse. The tail burned off, but for the most part it survived, while everything around it is hard to recognize.
The horse is on property owned by the Korsen family. Between them and their relatives they lost nine trailers, two cabins, one garage, seven four-wheelers and two razor, all terrain vehicles.
What happened on their property is what we found at lot after lot, and home after home. They put up fire caution tape as a joke, a bit of humor that helps them smile when all they want to do is cry.
It's that emotion that probably rings true for just about every family that lost property, because there are very few things if any that can be salvaged.
Motor-homes and trailers are now just twisted metal and ash. Chimneys are all that's left at family cabins, but eventually they, too, will need to be torn down.
Whether the damage is to homes or to the trees and the forest, this once beautiful area is now a black wasteland.
When we spoke to the Korsen's they told us that losing their possessions is not the end of the world. That philosophy is said better by a sign now hanging on a bolt that was once a three story cabin. It says, "Life is all about how you handle Plan B."
Because there is so much damage and so much of this rubble, there's a lot of trash that needs to be taken out of here and many homeowners planning on using this three day weekend to try and get and get a head start on all of that.
The Elk Complex burned over 131,000 acres and is 95-percent contained. Lighting started the fire on August 8th.