CARLSBAD (KGTV)-- Four years after the devastating wildfires in San Diego County, plants have grown back and neighbors rebuilt and recovered.
The 2014 wildfires raged through neighborhoods, up over hills, turning at a moment's notice fueled by the Santa Ana winds. "It looked like a war zone of black smoke everywhere all over the place of all the roads blocked off," Homeowner Bob Payne said.
He was at his relative's home when he got the call, and rushed back Carlsbad to see what he could do. He said he was lucky to have been out of town, otherwise he said he would've been on his driveway fighting the flames with a garden hose.
His home was one of 65 structures that burned. Firefighters fought as 14 separate fires grew, eventually covering 26,000 acres.
At Bob's home, all that was left was a safe, full of photos of smiling children and their wedding memories.
It took two and a half long years, to rebuild. He didn't want to leave their prime hilltop location, close to the beach and to town.
"It looks different, we changed our house some. We kept the same floor plan but we put in a couple perks in there which is nice," Bob said they had a pool put in and some exterior and interior designer changes.
Nearby SDG&E did an update of their own, switching out wood poles for more durable metal ones.
"It burned up here and the and the fire department said it was 65-foot flames that came up and went to the attic of the house and burned it down," Bob said, explaining the fire flew up one of the poles and arched down to the roof of his home.
Bob said he would never forget the generosity of the neighbors and complete strangers who gave everything from clothes, to food, to necessities to help his family through the disaster.
"I wish everybody a happy's Mother's Day on this day and count your blessings, and just enjoy your family and enjoy your health and everything that you have," saying he's thankful for the things that can't be touched by flames.