As the East Troublesome Fire ravaged Colorado, Dan Stones knew even if the firefighters are doing their best, it was only a matter of time before the blazes reach their family cabin near Lake Granby.
Stones didn’t even know about the wildfire until he drove up to the area over the weekend. At one point, it even jumped to over 100,000 acres within hours. By then, he figured their cabin had no chance of withstanding the flames.
But he was wrong—their cabin survived, unlike the others around it. And it’s all thanks to the brave firefighters who risked their lives to save it.
As great as this news was, Stones couldn’t believe it. He said the fire had been burning 30 miles away from the cabin. Eventually, the blazes got very close to it—about 5 or 6 feet away, according to firefighters.
“I thought it was an error,” he told CBS News. “I thought it was wrong, and my wife was standing over my shoulder when I saw it and my jaw hit the desk.”
When the smoke cleared, the Grand County sheriff sent a contractor to the cabin to shut off the water and clean out pipes for the incoming winter. That’s when they found a note left behind by a firefighter.
“If this note finds you we must have done something right,” the message read. “Sorry for the loss of your shed and we had to cut the wood fence to save the house. Things got really hot we stayed as long as possible.”
It was signed, “Best wishes Engine 1446.”
Stones couldn’t help but burst into tears upon reading the message from the firefighters.
“It absolutely blew me away,” he told CBS News. “And I’m a grown man, and I can admit I wept.”
Kyle Frary, the firefighter who wrote the note, downplayed his actions and said it was just part of the job.
“There’s a lot of good people that are doing the exact same thing we did. We just got credit for this,” he said.
When Frary first started his career as a firefighter, he was taught to leave a note if any action has to be taken on a person’s property. And that’s what the situation was with Stones’ cabin.
Still, the homeowner couldn’t be more grateful for what they did.
“Not only did they save our house, they apologized for not saving the tool shed, like that even matters,” Stones told WUSA 9. “This beats any Marvel movie, Avengers movie you could ever watch. These people are saving our world. And there’s nothing I could ever do to repay that.”
“If the whole world came together and said ‘thank you,’ it wouldn’t be enough,” he added.
The note had such an impact on Stones that he wanted to share it with the world. He posted a photo of it on Twitter, and it made rounds on the internet. Many praised the firefighters for their heroic work.
With this, Stones put out his own message of paying it forward and helping the community.
“This is where we roll up our sleeves. This is where we give back,” he said. “And, you know, so one of the things that I really want the world to know is like, please, if your house is still standing, donate that to emergency workers or to displaced families.”
Stones has also set up a GoFundMe to help support the Meeker Fire Department.
About 300 to 400 homes have been destroyed by the East Troublesome Fire, according to officials. It spread from 25,000 acres to over 192,000 last week. This drastic increase in scope led to evacuations in the surrounding areas.
It’s the second-largest fire in Colorado’s history, coming second only to the Cameron Peak Fire, which is still burning 11 miles away and has exceeded 206,000 acres.