BONSALL, Calif. (KGTV) - Thursday marks six months since the Lilac Fire ripped through North County homes, forcing neighborhoods to evacuate.
In total 4,100 acres were scorched, claiming 157 homes and damaging 64 more.
The Rancho Monserat community was hit hardest with dozens of people losing everything.
"This is going to be a painful and long process, people have lost their valuables and keepsakes, this is why we tell people you need to plan ahead," said North County Fire Captain John Choi.
But six months later there's new life in the badly burned neighborhoods.
Many of the once charred plots of land in Rancho Monserat have new manufactured homes. There are still empty yards, but people continue to work, trying to revive normalcy after the trauma.
According to county officials, 22 homeowners have applied and submitted plans to rebuild.
Residents say the fire brought the community closer and that they've come a long way from the ashes.
Mike and Tami Hulsizer lost nearly everything in the fire - their home of 13 years, beloved boat, and the 1949 restoration Oldsmobile nearly ready for its first test drive.
But Mike says he and Tami still have each other and their animals, including their 12-year-old hen Ol' Red who survived the fire.
INVESTIGATION: What started the Lilac Fire?
"I just saw the hedge of protection around her and for me, that meant God was watching out for us too - that everything was going to be ok. That if he would protect this little chicken he would protect us too," said Mike.
Just last week Mike submitted design plans to the county and is anxious to rebuild. He says he's not thinking about the possibility of future fires.
"As soon as we turned the corner to start to develop, then it got better. We still have our life and we have a lot of things to be thankful for still," said Mike.
The county says fire survivors receive front of the line plan check and that they'll work with them to get through the process as expeditiously as possible.
Mike and Tami hope to have their new home rebuilt next year.