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Colorado Springs families learn homes' fate at emotional meeting

June 29, 2012|By Tony Barboza

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Hundreds of families from neighborhoods torched by the massive Waldo Canyon wildfire met with local officials Thursday night to learn whether their homes had survived.

In an emotional meeting at a University of Colorado events center, Colorado Springs officials distributed printouts with addresses marking which houses had been destroyed or damaged, and which had survived, attendees said.

At least 346 homes were destroyed on some 35 streets in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, Mayor Stephen Bach said earlier in the day. He warned that the toll could grow as more areas are inspected. 

PHOTOS: U.S. wildfires 2012

Byron and Rebekah Largent had already heard that their home had burned but attended the night meeting to support friends and neighbors -- some of whom broke down when they got the bad news.

The Largents evacuated on Saturday, staying with Rebekah’s  parents in Monument, Colo.

As they fled, Byron, 26, and Rebekah, 31, grabbed some clothing, a laptop, files and photos but had to leave some priceless possessions -- including Rebekah’s wedding dress from their marriage four years ago.

“Our mindset was, this is just for safety. We’ll be back,” said Byron, who works with Rebekah at a Christian publishing company.

The fire raged through their neighborhood on Tuesday -- their daughter’s first birthday.

Afterward, a friend who is a police officer drove through the area and told them their home had burned down.

At the Thursday-night meeting, they got the official news about the house they had rented from Rebekah's parents since February: Destroyed.

The Largents said they remained strong by focusing on their Christian faith, and offered support and perspective to others just getting the bad news.

“It’s not the end of the world," Byron Largent said. “You lose some things that you can’t replace, but as long as you’re alive  -- and we got our daughter out, us out, what else matters?”

He expressed confidence in the future.

“I think we’re going to come back on the other side of this better than we were before the fire,” he said.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com 

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