For what it's worth, Booger tried to save them.

"She was barking, trying to get us out of the house, and we were laughing, saying 'Oh, she's inhaled too many paint fumes,'" said Amanda Davis, whose 4-year-old Rottweiler is a service dog for her son, Justin Suddoth.

"Guess who's getting lots of extra dog biscuits now?"

Despite initially ignoring the dog's warning, Davis and her family, their menagerie of pets and the house on Thomas Road they're renovating escaped harm during the Black Forest fire. After a brief evacuation, Davis is home and busy doing what she can to give back, by way of the firefighters whose efforts saved countless homes like hers.

Davis, her daughter Destiny, their family and friends have joined together to create folk art-style crucifixes that they hope will raise spirits among those affected by the fire. Made from salvaged Black Forest pine and hay baling wire, the rustic "Crosses for Losses" are intended to raise money for the Black Forest community's only fire station, which serves about 8,000 homes and which lost thousands of dollars' worth of equipment battling the fire.

"We wanted to do something for the community. Instead of spreading fire and ash to everyone around us, we wanted to spread some of our love," said Davis, who came up with the idea after she returned home and set about cutting back the property's trees and brush. "Some of the branches were still alive and green. The girls started talking, and we realized we can do something helpful with them. This is something beautiful from Black Forest."

At a news conference Saturday evening, Davis and her group presented a large cross to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

"It will certainly be in my backyard as a reminder of what Black Forest once was," Maketa said.

So far, hundreds of orders have come in locally, and from as far away as the United Kingdom. Crosses range from $5 to $20 and can be purchased through the group's Facebook page, at Black Forest Colorado Crosses for Losses.

"I think it's an absolutely amazing thing. Not only for mitigation, but also to commemorate the tragedy that has happened and to make something good out of it," said Mikaela Harvey, the 17-year-old daughter of Black Forest Fire Department Chief Bob Harvey, who was manning phones at the station Sunday.

"Right now, we have some damaged trucks. We had some fire hit our trucks, because our guys were out there so long trying to save structures. A lot of our hoses burned. We had to drop a lot of hoses so our guys could get out in time to preserve their lives."

The station needs to replace about 3,000 feet of damaged hose, at a cost of about $5,000, to continue battling the fire and "for the future preservation of our community," Harvey said.

"Amanda Davis and her family are amazing," Harvey said. "They have made such a beautiful sentiment of something so tragic. It's going to help us a lot."


Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364