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Crayons and colors capture Waldo Canyon Fire through child's eyes

Crayons and colors capture Waldo Canyon Fire through child's

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - One young fire victim used crayons and words to tell the story of her experience during the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Monday marked the second anniversary of the Waldo Canyon fire. It destroyed more than 300 homes and remains Colorado's most expensive wildfire on record.

Lily Rottenborn, 9, and her family lost their home in the Parkside at Mountain Shadows subdivision during the Waldo Canyon Fire. When Lily returned to school in the fall, her teacher asked her class to write a story about their summer. The then 7-year-old chose to tell her experience during the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Lily's book starts from the beginning, when her mother Carrie Rottenborn received a phone call that there was a wildfire burning near the family's home.

"We were on vacation in Ohio. Suddenly Mom's phone rang. She listened to the person on the other end, she looked horrified," read Lily aloud from the book.

Page by page, the book tells the story of what it's like to lose everything.

"When I asked Anna what was wrong, she sighed. 'Lily our house is gone. It burned down,'" wrote Lily in her book.

Lily and her sisters illustrated the book. Lily said her favorite picture is the drawing of her home engulfed in flames.

"I imagine this is what our house looked like when it was burning down," said Lily.

Lily's home was one of 141 homes in Parkside at Mountain Shadows subdivision that burned down in the fire.

In the book, Lily described what it was like to live in a rental home for more than a year.

"We tried to get familiar with our new house but as you probably guessed, it wasn't easy. We were used to our old house. I got mad at the Waldo Canyon Fire.  Our new house didn't have the feeling that we were home," wrote Lily in her book.

Lily's parents now see the book as part of their family's history. They decided to have the book printed after Lily's dad was touched by her words.

"This is something we need to preserve," said Carrie.

Last fall, Lily read the book to students at Edith Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest. Students at the school lost their homes in the Black Forest Fire that started on June 11, 2013. The Black Forest Fire destroyed more than 400 homes and is the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history.

"They laughed together and they all had a lot of empathy and they shared 'oh I lost that too' or 'I felt the same way.'  To me, that was the neatest thing I have seen happen with this story," said Carrie.

Lily was still living in a rental home when she finished the book.

"I am still pretty bummed about losing our house. Sometimes I feel like crying, sometimes.  That was my summer," wrote Lily in her book.

It was more than a year before Lily and her family moved back into their new home. Lily said it doesn't feel quite like home yet, but she loves the new house.

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