DAYTON — It’s been one month since the human-caused Elmo Fire near the shores of Flathead Lake blazed out of control leaving a trail of destruction behind.
One couple in Dayton had been building their dream home for the last 18 months, they felt helpless as they watched their home go up in flames just weeks before moving in.
With no home insurance, Steve and Lisa Holett lost everything in the fire, walking away with their beloved dogs and the clothes on their back.
MTN’s Sean Wells recently joined Steve and Lisa on their property as they start to clean up the mess left behind.
“The thought process is can we live here knowing what it used to look like, you know I don’t know…” said Lisa Holett.
Cleanup has begun on Steve and Lisa’s property in Dayton, one month after their lives were forever changed by the Elmo Fire.
“I’m looking at things I put together being thrown into a dumpster and it’s sad, but it also is symbolizing a new start for us,” added Steve Holett.
The Holett’s put their life savings into their dream home, with Steve working 10-to-15-hour days on the property.
“We put every emotion, every bit of our ourselves into this house for two years non-stop and to have it taken away is just horrible,” said Steve.
Steve and Lisa found a long-term rental in Dayton while they contemplate their next steps.
“We’re trying to see if we can make this work, we want to, the community wants us to and we want to, but financially we’re just not sure,” added Steve.
Lisa said their hope is to rebuild on the property in a different location than the original home.
“And make a new dream, and that’s really what we’re trying to do because I mean it was retirement, so we’re just going to work a little longer, but we did survive, we didn’t perish so we’re grateful for that,” said Lisa.
Steve and Lisa are beginning to move forward thanks to the outpouring of community support they’ve received both big and small.
“I’m just knocking down all the trees doing whatever I can to support them,” said family friend Chris Allender.
Allender is one of the dozens of friends and neighbors donating their free time to help the Holett’s rebuild.
“We’re going to clear this out so we can get a clear view of the lake, and then they can start planning on thinking about what they might want in the future,” said Allender.
A gofundme page set up for Steve and Lisa has raised more than $60,000 with hundreds of friends, family and complete strangers encouraging the Holett’s to start a new dream.
“It means everything because honestly if we didn't have that kind of support at all, I don’t know what would of happened to us, I don’t know if we would have survived this, might have just packed it up and went somewhere else, but we love Montana, we want to be here, so that kind of support encouraged us that people really do care,” said Lisa.
As they figure out what comes next, they remain thankful for the community they call home.
“The words of encouragement, it means everything to us, and that’s really helped us get through this.”
Those who would like to help Lisa and Steve Holett can do so here.