KOAA has confirmed that a structure has been lost in the Hayden Pass Fire. The cabin, located along Little Cottonwood Creek, was lost on Monday.
Chuck Pelto tells News5 as soon as he found out about the fire, he called family for help, and they went to the cabin to try to protect it. While they were working the fire got dangerously close. "Black smoke coming from the fire immediately to the west, we looked over to the east and there was black smoke over there as well down the escape route we had intended to use," Pelto said.
"It was burning crazy," said Jerrod Ridgway, a family member. "Moving down the hill like lava almost. That's when it gets a little scary, is when you realize that's burning towards you."
The trail they usually take to the cabin now cut off by fire, and they didn't know if their escape route led to flames. "We decided to take the chance on that, rather than taking the chance on the upper meadow," Pelto said.
All terrain vehicles helped them navigate the trail to safety. "That was goal number one, get out of there alive," Ridgway said. They went back to the property Wednesday morning to find the cabin burned to the cinder block foundation.
"Everything was just gray," Ridgway said. "The trees were gray. The ground was gray. It was all ash covered."
Still, memories remain. "My father built it," said Susan Pelto. "He designed the cabin and built it himself. He had help from friends every once and a while when it took two people, but it was his project and our getaway place."
The family used the cabin as a hunting camp for friends. "I loved to go for rides in the Jeep," Susan remembered.
"I can't put it into words," Chuck said. "All the work we'd put into the cabin, all the things we'd done up there."
The cabin was just barely inside the fire line. A small barn on the property also burned. The Pelto family isn't sure if they'll rebuild. They plan to wait a couple weeks after the fire is out before they go back to salvage what they can.