CLE ELUM, Wash. -- Evacuation orders were lifted for some families who have homes in the Taylor Bridge Fire’s footprint. Across the hills around Cle Elum, it’s a mixture of relief and despair.
Some of the people who finally got to come back home were hardest hit. They returned to find nothing left except the land their home sits on.
Around the Letsons’ home on Ellensburg Ranches Road, the land stands barren and scorched. Their home was unrecognizable. The only thing left standing upright was a satellite dish.
“I’m thankful we weren’t in it,” said Virginia Letson.
They lost everything excepted what they shoved into two small suitcases as they escaped the fire, which tore along Highway 10 early Tuesday.
Gone is Virginia’s prized piano. Replacing it all is up to them.
“We did not have insurance, so that was not a good thing,” she said.
Mary Colley-Shults went through her family heirlooms. She said she’ll miss her grandmother’s dishes the most.
"She never had anything,” said Colley-Shults. “She lived in a covered wagon most of her life.”
But Colley-Shults still has her home, and her horses and cats survived. Even though she can’t replace what she lost, she still has the memories they created.
"It's hard, but this is a joy when this all you lose,” said Colley-Shults.
Memories will have to be enough for many of the victims, who are relying on hope and optimism to carry them forward.
"Things will get better honey,” said Virginia’s husband, Terry Letson. “We're alive.”
The Letsons said their home was too old to insure. They both have good jobs with the university and they say they will rebuild.