POCATELLO — Not all the work is done.
There is still a sprinkler system that needs to be installed before landscaping can be done, and then there is all that landscaping work to do.
But on April 29, Thomas and Maureen Holmes, displaced by the Charlotte fire, moved into their new home on Mink Creek Road.
Thomas was at work in Pocatello and Maureen was on vacation in England, visiting family and waiting to use her tickets to the London Olympics. But a woman, who was at the Holmes’ home when the fire broke out, let them know early on that their home was in jeopardy.
“The lights went out and she looked outside and saw it coming over the hill,” Thomas said. “By the time she got down the steps and in her car, the place was starting to burn.”
Their house is close to Charlotte Drive, close to where the fire started. In fact, the community well they use is the Charlotte well.
Thomas, who headed up to his home, said he spoke with the woman as she came through the road block.
“She said she was pretty sure it was gone,” he said of his home.
The certainty came later that night when he ran into another woman in a local grocery store who had received a picture of the area earlier that evening. She showed it to Thomas.
Maureen said she found out later that evening when talking with Thomas on the phone.
“I said, ‘You sound really distracted,’” Maureen said. “He said, “I am over at Century (High School) and I think I am watching our house burn down.’ So I kind of went into shock.”
Her thoughts were of coming home immediately, but Maureen said Thomas told her there was little she could do at this point, that she may as well remain in England and enjoy the Olympic Games.
“He said if I came back, I would just be sitting in the rental and there was nothing I could do,” she recalled.
When Maureen did return in mid-August, Thomas first had to show her the loss before they could start talking about rebuilding.
Thomas said he first gave Maureen a tour of Autumn Lane and Caribou Way, showing her areas far more devastated than the hillsides around them. He then took her to their home site, which had already been cleaned, hoping the blow would be softened.
From there, it didn’t take them long to get a start on rebuilding. Dirt started moving on the site in October and by early November, contractors were pouring the foundation.
The new home is only marginally bigger than the old one, but it’s positioned a bit differently on the property, allowing for better views and for a walk-out basement. While they had plenty of deck space before, their new, wrap-around deck is also covered, something that will come in handy.
“That’s one thing we really wanted because we like to sit outside a lot and barbecue,” Maureen said. “So a covered deck is going to be really nice.”
They also took the liberty of making life a bit easier on themselves when designing the new home. The main floor has all they need, including the kitchen, dining room, living room, master bedroom and laundry.
The basement is where you will find guest bedrooms, family room and lots of storage.
“It’s nice to have storage,” Maureen said.
The other thing Maureen got was a place for her stuff. Because of the size of the closets in the old home, Maureen said her things were in several locations in the house.
“Now I have a really nice big walk-in closet,” she said. “That was one thing I really did want.”
Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of stories chronicling the Charlotte Fire recovery efforts. Look for more stories every Monday in the Journal.
If you are on the road to recovery from the Charlotte fire, getting ready to rebuild or even choosing not to rebuild, we would like to hear your story of recovery. Contact Jimmy Hancock at the Idaho State Journal at 239-3137, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.