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Richard and Amber Godfrey are determined to rebuild after losing everything

by Mary-Ann Brandon

LA VETA — Middle Creek Road was one of the most devastated areas of the Spring Creek fire. The Godfreys’ hand built, off the grid, solar powered home stood little chance against a fire so hot and powerful that it turned refrigerators into nothing more than a pile of ash. Twelve miles from the nearest hydrant, the couple was unable to afford fire insurance

Amber sat down with me, clearly still in a state of shock, yet she manages to smile and remain optimistic, continually expressing concern for others who suffered the same horrific loss.

Richard Godfrey is a truck driver and was in New Mexico at the time the couple was ordered to evacuate, and he managed to get home just in time to hook up their Airstream trailer and help Amber gather up what few possessions that they could fit in their vehicles. Richard is a sculptor and lost all but one of his pieces of art to the fire.

Amber says, “We were always fearful of fire, we mitigated.” Despite all their best efforts, the fire marched up a mowed field and overtook their home. An avid gardener, she is grateful that some of her flowers and much of her food survived, despite 13 days with no water. Her greatest concern was for the family of feral kitties someone dumped on her property she was unable to catch when they had to evacuate. Now back at the site, three of the four cats have shown up with only scant evidence of burns. She holds out hope that the fourth will return home.

A wildlife camera on the property managed to catch a portion of the burn but shut down when the temperature reached 250 degrees. A tractor, full of gasoline, parked in the middle of the mowed field, strangely and rather miraculously, did not ignite.

Neighbor Vonnie Valdez took the couple into her home and is committed to helping them find a temporary home until they can rebuild. Another friend has started a Go Fund Me account that has brought in $7,700 so far; enough to possibly help to build the foundation for a new home. The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is helping to clean up the site. Says Amber, “I am overwhelmed by the kindness that has been shown to us.”

Richard and Amber have worked hard their entire lives, are fiercely independent and now in their sixties with meager savings, they are very humbled to find themselves on the receiving end of charity. Their contributions to the community include Richard’s work as a Certified Nurse Assistant for hospice patients and Amber’s role at La Veta Library and as a cook at Deeprint Wine and Bistro. They are described by friends as being, “really wonderful people.”

A benefit dinner, silent auction and concert are being organized to take place on August 4 and 5 to raise funds to help the couple rebuild.

Full disclosure, I contacted my good friend and collaborator, Tommy Tutone and asked him if he would come for a benefit concert. Tommy has twice performed in the area and without hesitation he agreed to fly in for the event. Along with Fred James and Chicago Blues artist Ken Saydak, we will perform for a fundraiser on August 5, at the Francisco Center For The Performing Arts in La Veta. A meet and greet dinner, organized by Deerprint Wine and catered by La Veta’s wonderful chef Derick Kelly will take place the night before on August 4.

It is uncertain at this time if there will be any FEMA assistance for the couple but Amber was adamant that if they wind up with any excess money they will pay it forward to others who have been similarly affected by this disaster.

When I asked her why she wants to rebuild she said, simply, “because it’s our home. I have faith, I believe it will be o.k.”

For information about the concert, dinner and silent auction, please visit

After the fire, Richard and Amber stand in the ruin of what was once their home. Photos courtesy of Amber Godfrey