My name is Laura Lollar and I, along with many of my friends, family and neighbors, am a wildfire survivor. I launched this site so wildfire survivors could get useful information and encouragement from others who have “been there.”
I interview wildfire survivors, in person with video and by phone — so they can tell their stories and share lessons learned. Even years after the “main event”, people still have things they want to say. In some cases, it’s easier now to talk about their experiences, but many still get teary-eyed and choke up a bit as memories come flooding back.
I will continue to publish wildfire survivor tips in my After the Fire PDF booklet on the Resources page and am embedding the video interviews on the Video page. If you know a wildfire survivor, if you’re a first responder or part of a disaster response support team, please share this site with your friends, family and neighbors.
I hope this information is helpful. I wish there had been something similar available for us when we went through our wildfire experience! –Laura Lollar, wildfire survivor
Our Wildfire Story
We lost it all in Colorado’s 2013 Black Forest Wildfire. So did my brother and his family. So did 500 of my neighbors. Two of my neighbors died and over 14,000 acres burned. While there are no “winners” when it comes to a natural disaster, it was among the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.
Below is a picture I took of our home the day we evacuated. You can see smoke clouds billowing over the roof. Little did I know that less than an hour after we evacuated, our home would be engulfed with flames.
One of our local reporters, Wayne Laugesen, shot this quick video. Most likely, this is the exact place and the moment our home was burning.
This is what I packed to evacuate, along with two cats, my computer, our photo albums, and my son’s few belongings. Kiddingly, when I walked into my Mom and Dad’s house that afternoon with this suitcase, I joked, “Well, this could end up being the only thing I have left in this world.”
Below is what was left when we went back ten days later. If you look closely, you can see the ceramic decorative houses left intact on the mantle over the woodstove. I use those ceramic houses to illustrate the “resilience” we gain from surviving tragedy and non-negotiable change in my Wildfires of Change speaking engagements.
We rebuilt on the same site within a year of losing our home. About half of our neighbors also rebuilt, but many settled in other communities. Some left the area permanently. Many still struggle to recover emotionally: depression, PTSD and anxiety are not unheard of. However, this is a feisty community and most have moved on with life.
If you know of Wildfire Survivors, first responders or others who want to tell their story, I’d love to interview them. Please have them contact me.
With my best regards,
Laura Lollar, Black Forest, Colorado