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6 months after Little Valley Fire, victims still struggle with damage & rebuilding costs

LITTLE VALLEY FIRE BURN SCAR | SKYVISION DRONE FOOTAGE

Friday marked six months since the Little Valley Fire sparked on October 14, 2016. The fire charred nearly 2,300 acres and destroyed 23 homes and 17 outbuildings. Now, half a year later, homeowners are still facing challenges to put their lives back together.

"It's been a very wet and snowy 6 months." Mary Anne Healy experienced the effects of the wettest winter on record firsthand. Rain and snow have taken their toll on her property, which was charred by the Little Valley Fire.

The scorched hillside can't absorb all of the water from recent storms, creating a headache for ranchers like the Healy's.

Mary Anne said erosion caused massive puddles on the fields of her ranch and runoff caused large culverts on her property. "Erosion that was six feet deep and four feet wide and that is no exaggeration."

She says normally, this much rain would help her business. "We'd be in heaven;" but she'll be lucky to see even 50 percent of her normal crops. "It's going to be worse than what it was in the drought."

After the fire, Washoe Valley looks much different.

Dennis Hof also lost his home in the Little Valley fire. He called his mountain home a place he could escape to, but now the trees that once surrounded his house are charred.

He said, "I've got all this land out there with all hundreds and hundreds of trees that are just burned out. Who's going to remove them?"

Mary Anne Healy recently surveyed the upper half of her property and recalled a similar scene: "It looks like an atom bomb went off. All you see are black sticks coming out of the air."

But homeowners say they aren't just missing their forest landscapes. Hof said, "this community will never be the same. It'll never be the same."

Some fire victims are leaving Washoe Valley and their burnt land behind. Dennis Hof said, "other people have moved to Idaho, Montana. They're just getting out of here."

Healy said she's already noticed a change in the community she's called home for decades. "A lot of our friends that live really close, and we are close knit around here. They're gone."

But others, like the Healy's, are staying and starting to replace the houses they lost. "I just want the little ranch house that we had before that my children and my grandchildren can enjoy."

Some people are struggling to come up with the money to rebuild though. Without any compensation from the state, they face a hefty bill.

Dennis Hof said, "it's going to cost $1.4 million to rebuild my house. My insurance company gave me $512,000." He said he doesn't want to have to take out a nearly million-dollar loan for a home that he has already paid off.

While structures and even trees can be replaced, Hof said he lost "stuff from my mother and father [who] passed away, WWII mementos, my mom's silverware, photographs that you're just not going to replace any of this stuff."

Now six months later, victims of the fire say the pain of losing their homes is still fresh.

Mary Anne Healy said, "my husband and I have been married for 47 years and this has been the hardest part of our 47 years of our marriage... It's starting from scratch all over again."

Dennis Hof said, "I'm very upset. This makes me extremely sad. Six months later and the hurt hasn't gone away and I'm mad as hell."

Many homeowners have already filed lawsuits against the state of Nevada, trying to get compensation for their losses. Attorney general Adam Laxalt's office has asked a judge to dismiss their cases, claiming the Nevada Division of Forestry is not liable for the damages done in the Little Valley Fire.

News 4/Fox 11 will continue to follow the lawsuits about the Little Valley Fire and bring you updates as they become available.

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