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Published September 30, 2013, 09:21 AM

Karlstad residents look back one year after wildfire

Monday marks the one year anniversary of the wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres and several homes in Karlstad, Minnesota.

Monday marks the one year anniversary of the wildfire that destroyed thousands of acres and several homes in Karlstad, Minnesota.

Residents reflect on what's changed, and what hasn't since that day.

An American flag waves next to a welcome sign hanging on Elwyn Ruud's garage. After this fire raged through Karlstad one year ago, Ruud says it's a miracle she still has a home to welcome people to.

Elwyn Ruud- Karlstad Resident: “We stood out on the highway on 59 and watched the water bombs go down and the retardant go down, and then we left knowing we probably wouldn't have a house to come home to.”

The fire crept through her backyard.

Ruud: “It was frightening.”

It took out her neighbors shed that used to sit here. But then,

Ruud: “It stopped like two feet behind our shed, so we were very very lucky.”

Lucky to have a home, and their lives.

Ruud: "We were so excited. The next morning my husband and I came back and we walked the yard and actually stood in the yard and cried."

They also cried tears of joy this summer, as their daughter got married out here.

Ruud: “Even despite the ashes, something beautiful came from that yard.”

Some residents weren't as lucky. The fire destroyed 11 homes, dozens of structures, and about 4,500 acres. Now one year later, Karlstad's mayor says his town has come a long way.

Nick Amb- Karlstad Mayor: “We've healed as a community in many ways. We lost some houses, but we're just so thankful everybody is alive.”

Ruud: “We can't say enough about our local firefighters. They were our heroes and our champions.”

The mayor credits the fast response and dedication of local volunteer firefighters for keeping this whole town from being destroyed.

Residents are now working to get approval for a firebreak that would cover about five miles of city-owned and private property.

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