BUHLER, Kan. (KAKE)- The Buhler USD 313 Education foundation presented checks to five Buhler families Wednesday impacted by the Cottonwood Complex Fire last month.

Hutchinson fire crews told KAKE News that fire burned nearly 12,000 acres, killed one person, and destroyed 35 homes.

"We just went home, we weren't planning on going home. We went home and we are so glad that we did," said Reno County homeowner Alisha Brooks, one of the victims of that fire.

Brooks said she was originally told by law enforcement that the fire posed no danger to her and her family's home.

"I went to the store and I called [my husband] and I said there's a fire."

She said that that warning was nearly too little too late as the flames moved towards their home, nearly costing Jason Dwyer and his son their lives.

"The fire took over and they barely made it out," Brooks told KAKE News.

Brooks and Dwyer allowed KAKE News to visit their former home Wednesday. There wasn't much left that the flames didn't scorch other than a lawnmower, a grill and satellite dishes.

 

"It was just like I didn't even know what to grab, so I just grabbed some pictures of the walls and it was like that was it," said Dwyer. "As soon as I drove out of the driveway the house was gone."

What followed was a similar fate to the other Buhler families KAKE News watched receive checks for thousands of dollars Wednesday: Brooks and Dwyer were left with nothing.

"Every family has had such a huge loss that attended," said Buhler Superintendent Cindy Couchman Wednesday.

Couchman said since that fire in March, the Buhler Education Foundation has been collecting donations to provide long-term assistance to those families in need. Last month Couchman shared some of the personal items that had been donated to help them, and that generosity didn't stop there.

Couchman said the foundation received several donations from all over like the Haven F.F.A. and Holy Cross School. The Buhler Education Foundation said it had $58,000 in donations come in over the course of a month and a hold. Those donations were split up among the five district families impacted and handed out Wednesday afternoon.

"We really appreciate everybody that's helped," said Brooks.

"There's hope," said Couchman when asked what her takeaway from all of the recent loss was. "There is within all this loss, still there's always hope."