Mother Earth Living


The Passive Solar Home that Survived the Sugarloaf Mountain Fire

Devastation gives way to healing for survivors of Colorado’s Sugarloaf Mountain fire.



A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Photo by The Denver Post
Bill built by hand the kiva-style fireplace in the bathroom, right, which keeps bathers toasty no matter what the weather. Sheets of reed fencing that the couple found at Montgomery Ward cover R-45 insulation in the ceiling; brick floors soak up and store solar heat. In the living area, this page, 60 linear feet of windows let the sunshine in.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Bill, a sculptor who once owned a gallery in Aspen, Colorado, has added fanciful touches such as the windmill on the home’s roof, facing page. The front door, left, and the tall interior doors and the fireplace ­mantel, this page, are from salvage yards in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
An old-fashioned but efficient woodstove near the kitchen picks up the slack during very cold weather or cloudy days. Surface-bonding mortar gives interior walls a sculptural feel.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Massive beams made of beetle-kill pine radiate from a silo constructed from recycled bricks, which acts as the home’s main structural post and also as a chimney and vent for solar heat. Susan found the 1930s stove through the classifieds.
A grand sweep of glass panes recycled from an old greenhouse lets Susan and Tom and their family bask in sunshine from sunup to sundown during the winter months.
Photography by Povy Kendal Atchison
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Susan and Tom used aspen and pine trees that had lost their lives to the fire to build the sides and legs of their dining room table. The top is beetle-kill pine.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
A headstone over the door of a cabin Susan and Tom built after the fire, below, means “After the fire, rebirth.”
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Photography by Povy Kendal Atchison
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Betty’s Rolfing studio (above) was rebuilt after the fire. Rolland’s stucco watch-repair shop (lower right) was the only building to survive the fire. The new cabin stands beside it on the left.
Rolland and Betty’s two-room cabin built from trees killed in the fire allows for a living area downstairs and a sleeping area upstairs. Rolland spent two years perfecting the metal scalloping on the roof, which is made from salvaged tiles.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.
A firefighter works to contain blazes as they descend on Bill and Deann’s home on Sugarloaf Mountain.





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