GRAND LAKE, Colo. (KDVR) — The area around Donald Kern’s home in Grand Lake looked like an inferno two years ago as the East Troublesome roared through.

Swirls of fire spun through ferocious winds. Kern talked to FOX31 about the time he started getting warnings that he and his family might have to evacuate.

“It went from pre-evac to you need to leave, and then 10 minutes later, you need to, like, really leave, ’cause the fire was coming this way,” Kern said.

In just minutes, the fire devoured his home of more than 20 years.

“I went back inside to get my wedding ring. I came back out and this wall here was starting to go. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock,” Kern said.

Rebuilding after the East Troublesome fire

Since then, the Kerns have built a new home. They moved in this summer. The two-story home with magnificent views is not finished quite yet, but livable. Still, times are tough.

“There’s no more insurance money, so we have to finish everything on the house, and that’s very stressful,” Kern said.

Grand Lake Fire Protection District Chief Brad White said a lot was learned from the East Troublesome fire.

“One of the big lessons for us: It can happen here,” White said. “We’ve been focusing on what the next 2020 season is going to look like and when are we going to see it,” White said, recalling the year of several large, catastrophic fires in Colorado.

Kern had mitigated his home. His previous structure even had fire-resistant siding. But it was no match for the Troublesome’s ferocious, torch-like winds.

Kern said his main goal has been trying to take care of his family. They are working as quickly as possible to prepare the home before the harsh winter season sets in.