COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) - The High Park fire was still burning in Fort Collins when the Waldo Canyon Fire started west of Colorado Springs, first threatening communities like Cascade and Manitou Springs.
Then came June 26. The Waldo Canyon fire erupted, flaming out of control and heading right into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs.
By the time the fire was contained, it had destroyed a total of 346 homes across 18,247 acres.
Six months later, folks are still thanking firefighters for their work to save homes.
"It would be unthinkable to not say thank you for protecting hour homes," explained resident Moriah Yeh. "Doing what they could and going in there for us."
Yeh wanted to make sure everyone heard her message loud and clear. She spray painted the very fence firefighters cut down to save her home, placing a colorful "C" for Colorado on it.
Other messages turned up all across Colorado Springs. Some were painted, some drawn and some posted. Jake Martens, another resident who was also evacuated, saw the messages collectively as something bigger, so he decided to create a book.
Martens explained his vision of "Signs of Hope" to CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.
"Use it as a way for us to heal, to hold onto something more than just the searing images of smoke and fire and destroyed houses that were in our minds."
Moriah's message made the cover of the 36 page book. Sales not only help the victims, but the heroes of the Waldo Canyon fire.
"This money helps make those groups whole again," said Eric Cefus with the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. "100 percent of every penny that comes in goes right back out to the community."
So far, the book has raised $40,000 for the Waldo Canyon Fire Fighters Fund, but more funds are needed for repairing and rebuilding in upcoming years.
"There's going to be a huge need for mitigation and flood control," Cefus said. "A lot of the money being raised today is going to help them."
The goal is double that $40,000, but Martens says he sees "Signs of Hope" as a message for all of Colorado as 2012 comes to a close.
"2012 was a year for Colorado," Martens said. "The Waldo Canyon Fire, the High Park Fire, the tragedy in Aurora and other horrible events. What this book does, what the signs do, is hold onto the positive signs of what seems like a terrible story or what was a terrible event. It shows there are positive community characteristics."
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