Young Glen Ellen farmers rebuild after firestorm

GLEN ELLEN, Calif. (KGO) -- Six months after firestorms ravaged much of the North Bay, the rebuilding is just the beginning.

ABC7 News visited a family farm in Glen Ellen, a small community directly in the path of the Nuns Fire.

"It's crazy, crazy...everything's on fire," says the voice on the cellphone video, the voice of Melissa Lely as she and her husband Austin drove through the inferno that surrounded their small farm in Glen Ellen during the early morning hours of October 9, 2017.

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It was surreal and frightening for the young Glen Ellen couple, who awoke to see a raging firestorm bearing down on their home and farm, an inferno later dubbed, the Nuns Fire.

"It was terrifying at first, and being told to get out, like fast," said Melissa.

"The whole ranch next to us was burning, winds were coming about 60 miles an hour in our face," added Austin. "Grabbed some business documents, our laptop, our puppy and pretty much headed out."

The Lelys met in college at Chico State. Neither majored in agriculture, but together they cultivated an idea to create a small farm, one dedicated to producing healthy, sustainable produce and eggs. They called it Bee-Well.

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"After falling in love with food and falling in love with health, this is the closest we could get to actually making a difference," explained Austin.

Their growing business was just beginning to thrive when the Nuns Fire came roaring their way that October night.

But somehow, despite the nearly total destruction they found when they returned to the farm the next day, all of their goats, cows and even their hundreds of chickens somehow survived.

"First thing, we went to see the chickens and discovered that the fire burned right under their coop. We opened the door of the coop to see and they jumped out like it was another day," said Melissa.

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Now the Lelys are using insurance money and are applying for state and federal grants to rebuild Bee-Well Farms where it once stood.

"Everything can be replaced, everything can be remade," added Austin. "You can do whatever you want really, as long as you have the passion and the heart to follow through with it."

Click here to make a donation to a GoFundMe page for the Lely family. And click here for more on Bee-Well Farms.

Click here for more stories and videos related to the North Bay fires.
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