The Elmo Fire just west of Flathead Lake exploded Monday afternoon as strong winds blew the fire east, forcing some evacuations. Lisa and Steve Holett lost their dream home in Dayton when it was destroyed by the fire, just weeks before they were ready to move in.
They had been building the home for the last 18 months, and felt helpless as they watched it go up in flames.
“We don’t know where to go…that was our life savings...we have no idea, it’s less than 24 hours so we’re trying to figure it out, we have two dogs in the car, and these are the only shoes I have so we just have to start over," said Lisa.
She explained, "You can’t have home insurance until the home is finished, so we had construction insurance which is like that (small hand gesture), and my husband did it himself, so there’s no reimbursement for that either."
Lisa was set to join her husband in retirement at the end of the year. Now she’s searching for answers thinking about what could have been…and what comes next.
“And we’re too old to do it again, so that was it, we’re not doing it again.”
Brigitte Cooley has lived in Dayton since 1993 and says she can’t believe what she witnessed Monday afternoon as the Elmo Fire blew out of control.
“It moved, it moved! The smoke and the flames and the flames everywhere, here were little ones, there were little ones and pretty soon it’s almost like it was sped up, you just can’t believe it,” said Brigitte.
Brigitte is amazed by the pilots operating aircraft through the heavy smoke.
“To guide those planes through the smoke, I’ll tell you they deserve a raise, a bonus and recognition, this is like serving in the military sometimes you know, this is war, we have a war against this fire.”
Lisa hopes nobody else suffers through the pain her family has endured, as the Elmo fire rages on.
“We just watched it go up in flames, we stood here, and it was our retirement home, our dream home that we’ve been building for 18 months, and it’s gone, all of it's gone,” said Holett.
A family friend has created a GoFundMe; click here if you would like to help.
The fire has grown to more than 16,000 acres and was 10% contained as of Tuesday, August 2, 2022. The Elmo Fire started on July 29, off of Montana Highway 28 around mile marker 39, west of Elmo. The fire started in grass and made its way into the timber north of Highway 28. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. There are Red Cross evacuation centers at Somers Middle School and Polson High School.
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