Wallow Fire victims on what rebuilding will be like in CO - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Wallow Fire victims on what rebuilding will be like in CO

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A fire-fighting slurry plane makes a pass in preparation to drop its load on a wildfire in the Black Forest area north of Colorado Springs. (Source: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) A fire-fighting slurry plane makes a pass in preparation to drop its load on a wildfire in the Black Forest area north of Colorado Springs. (Source: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
SPRINGERVILLE, AZ (CBS5) -

CBS 5 News is closely following the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history.

The Black Forest Fire has killed two people and burned about 15,000 acres. At least 360 homes have been destroyed, and it could get worse. [Related: 2 found dead in area burned by CO wildfire]

It's something Arizonans are all too familiar with. We've had our fair share of big ones in the past few years, the Wallow and Rodeo Chedeski Fires in eastern Arizona and the Schultz Fire in Flagstaff, for example. People in Arizona are pretty much experts when it comes to life after wildfire.

"It makes you sick to your stomach. It's black, it smells, when the wind blows it still brings up all that ash," said Wallow Fire victim Brenda Spencer.

Spencer lives in Nutrioso, AZ, one of the areas hit hard by the Wallow Fire in 2011.

"It's heart-wrenching, it really is. It's heart-wrenching because what you knew is no longer there," Spencer said.

But mixed in with the blood, sweat and tears that come after a fire like this one is a community that's more like family than neighbors.

"It's so nice to know that you've got people that you can count on," Spencer said.

It's those people, Spencer said, that will come forward in Colorado once the flames are put out.

"Trying to assess and grasp what they need to do next, those directly affected. And then there's the whole support group that comes along behind that," said wildfire consultant Eric Neitzel.

Neitzel lives in Show Low, AZ.

"I drive through the Rodeo Chedeski Fire ever week. I actually see it every day, it's kind of right out my back deck here," Neitzel said.

He's been a part of the relief effort in fires across the country, but knows how tough it is when it's literally in your own back yard.

"Anytime there's smoke in the air, it's always flashbacks to Wallow or Rodeo Chedeski. My heart goes out to Colorado," Neitzel said.

Spencer's advice for people who want to help the victims in Colorado or any fire for that matter is to donate to your local Red Cross, donate blood, just give what you can so it's there, just in case someone needs it.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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