BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KELO) — Almost 1,000 homes have been destroyed following a wildfire in Colorado. 

“It was just bedlam,” Rick Williamson said.

74-year-old Rick Williamson was on his way back from a meeting in Denver on Thursday when the fire broke out. 

“I could just tell that things were not good. I couldn’t even get back to my house with my car. I had to park it and walk, and just walking three blocks was a major undertaking because of the high wind and all of the soot and ash and the sand blowing,” Rick said. 

He grew up in De Smet and left South Dakota in 1969 after graduating from USD. He worked in academia for most of his life, and his home was built to be as sustainable as possible. It included solar panels and a wind turbine. 

“I tried to do all those things and do it as efficiently and cost effectively as I possibly could and did probably 75% of it by myself,” he said. 

Rick’s granddaughter Arielle Williamson started a GoFundMe page to help raise money so he can rebuild. 

“A house I think is something so significant for people,” she said. “It holds a lot of memories. Like for me, losing my house, of course it would be a tragedy in itself and losing photos and memorabilia and whatever, but like for Poppi, it’s really been his life’s work. It’s all culminated into that building.”

Rick’s home is a total loss, but there is at least one special item he didn’t lose. 

“My blue diary that I keep that has all my life stories, every car I’ve ever bought. I’ve moved this in my 49th move in my life. I have all my moves documented there. I got that, my computer and my flash drives. That’s the only thing I walked out with,” Rick said.

But he’s pressing on and already has plans to build a new sustainable home.
“I don’t think he cried about what happened. It’s just because he is so strong. It’s just material things at the end of the day. He’s here, so that’s what we’re thankful for,” Arielle said.  

Rick has been staying with friends for the time being.

You can find the GoFundMe page here.