The Parkside neighborhood off Flying W Ranch Road was decimated in the Waldo Canyon fire, and four months later remains an overwhelming sight of vacant lots, burned trees and construction equipment.
But to Jean Timmons, who lost her home on Majestic Drive, it’s a beautiful sight. So much so that she and her husband, Barry, moved Thursday into a rental home on Majestic — one of the few homes that survived. Now she can watch as the neighborhood of 178 homes, 141 of which were destroyed, is reborn from the ashes.
“It’s a sign of a neighborhood coming back,” she said Wednesday. “To us it’s a sign of hope, bringing it back again.”
The Timmons had lived in their home for three years before the fire blew through Mountain Shadows on June 26, consuming at least 346 homes, with more than 30 percent of them in Parkside. Parkside had a unique, and ultimately tragic, mix of architecture, layout and construction materials that turned into a conflagration. The homes were tightly spaced on cul-de-sacs, some with as little as three feet between them. Architectural requirements put together in the mid-1980s, when the development was conceived, stipulated that each home have cedar shake shingles, wood composite siding, and redwood decks. Although cedar shake shingles were outlawed for new homes in 2003, the highly combustible wood siding and decks in Parkside remained.
But the community was close-knit, united by closely-spaced homes, years of living together and a watchful homeowners association, Jean Timmons recalled.
“Everybody knows each other and they’re real helpful,” Timmons said. “It’s a great place.”
Some neighbors have sold their lots and intend to move on, but others like Timmons are bent on returning.
Meanwhile, the Parkside community has scattered throughout the county.
The Timmons spent the past four months living on the east side of town, near Austin Bluffs Parkway and Woodmen Road. It’s been hard being in an unfamiliar area, where the grocery stores are different, Timmons said.
“That’s been kind of hard. And the fact that you don’t have a house,” she added. “I can go (on) most days. This is my life now. It’s just really strange.
“Everyone had to find housing just anywhere they could. Some people are in Monument.”
To preserve the sense of community, some neighbors and members of the HOA board get together every Wednesday night, she said.
While the clamor of construction in Mountain Shadows is a sign of re-birth, not everyone wants to listen to its cacophony on a daily basis. Dave Heister, the Timmons’ pastor at Wilson United Methodist Church, said that many people dislike the constant noise.
That’s exactly what provided the Timmons with a chance to move back: One family on Majestic, whose home survived, is moving into a house they are care-taking in Peregrine while Parkside construction continues. The Timmons moved into that home at 5415 Majestic on Thursday morning.
“We’re just sort of changing places for a while,” Timmons said. “We’re getting involved in the HOA. Some folks have decided to sell. But there are those of us who really wanted to stay. This is our chance to go back.”
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261