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Jun 16, 2013 6:26 PM by Sam Salzwedel

Evacuated church members still have service

EL PASO COUNTY - Churches in the evacuation zone for the Black Forest Fire were not able to hold services Sunday morning.

The congregation at Bethel Lutheran Church invited Black Forest Lutheran Church members to breakfast and a service.

Todd Keenan went with his mom who lost her home in the fire.

"Several of the families have offered to let her live with them while she is dealing with this," he said. "It's just really neat to see how closely nit they are."

Keenan also grew up in that house.

"Christmas. Thanksgiving were there." he said. "My dad passed away in '99. His ashes are spread in that creek bed around his favorite trees. The loss of memories. The nice thing is you get to keep those memories."

His mom is staying with him in Aurora, and they drove down Sunday morning.

"Times like this, you have to put your family first," Keenan said. "and that's a need that she needed. We're all tired. We're all exhausted."

Duane Steinke helped build the church about 40 years ago and saw the wildfire approaching.

"We knew it was just across the street," he said. "So we went through a long time before we ever really had any indication that the church wasn't burned. We kind of thought it probably would be."

He said it survived.

"Even though we can see it in our minds," Steinke said. "It is not the same as going there and seeing, 'Hey. It's here. It's OK.'"

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