ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) - Six months after the West Fire ripped through Alpine, residents still have an immense amount of work to do to rebuild.
Colin Campbell's parents owned the Campbell Creek Ranch for 13 years before it burned in July. Campbell spoke with 10News in August at a benefit that raised at least $40,000 for the victims of the fire.
Sunday, on the six month anniversary of the fire, Campbell walked through the ranch, lending a window into his memories.
Surrounding him, the ranch lay much the same as the day after the fire. Ashes and bricks covering the foundation of his parent's home, the pool drained, the white fence lining the driveway, melted. As he looked around him, he saw the ghost of what had been.
He looked at the pool, and spoke of an old pact he made with his two sons, "at any time, on the coldest day of the year, I would plunge into the pool, and they always took it upon me to do it, and their timing was impeccable," he said laughing. His sons and wife would jump in after him.
At the house, his fondest memory was of a train set his parents built for his boys. He described the wooden track built at knee height, right in front of the vast fireplace to ensure the kids were warm while playing happily for hours, "we spoiled them with trains."
Over the past six months, volunteers and family members sifted through soot, unearthing treasures.
"Man it absolutely has been meaningful," Campbell said poignantly, "in fact there has been a picture of my wife, our wedding 23 years ago, that somehow, someway came out of the rubble."
He was also struck by the signs of hope sprouting around the grounds, "you can see now it is greening up, in the mountainsides, they are growing back, and it's just incredible that the environment, they just reinvigorate themselves." He said the boys are young teens now and learning, while cleaning up the ranch, how nature prevails.
Campbell's fight to protect the property is not over. "The erosion is our main concern," he said. With help from local leaders, sand bags held the weak soil mostly in place after recent rain.
Campbell said he's incredibly thankful for the continued support of the community, and hopes in the next two years to rebuild and move his parents back onto the ranch.