MORA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – They’d just moved to northern New Mexico when the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon Fire destroyed their entire property. Now, as the federal government is starting to pay back the losses from the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history, News 13 went to find out if the feds are following through on their promise.

For Micahlynn and Jason Kaza, the more than 130-acre oasis in the shadows of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Mora was everything they had been searching for. “My husband and I lived in Colorado and we had been hunting for another property,” Micahlynn said.

After searching multiple states, with one look at the property here, they were sold. “Sure enough, first day, first two hours in New Mexico, our realtor brought us to this property and it was like love at first sight, it was amazing!” Micahlynn said.

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They bought the property on March 2, 2022, for just shy of a million dollars. Just around one month later, the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire broke out. Then, it reached the Kaza’s property. At the time, they were heading down from Colorado to move their last load of belongings to their new home.

“Well first to buy it, right after we bought it, I had this feeling like, ‘gosh, how could this even be real? This is so perfect.’ And then to have it ripped away from you,” Micahlynn said.

Their house burned to the ground on May 2, 2022, just two months after buying it. When the Kaza’s were finally able to return to their property after a month, they found that everything had been burned, and they had lost their two cats; but ten of their horses had miraculously survived. Despite the loss, Micahlynn said they were optimistic: “The day we learned our house burned, two days later the president signed the bill. So, we knew there was help coming.”

The Kaza’s said they have been filing everything as quickly as possible—but aside from some emergency assistance, they have not yet received money for their full claim.

“When we went in and valuated everything, our total claim when all is said and done is about $300 million dollars,” Micahlynn said. She says the process has been long, though not altogether difficult; and with the recently published Final Rule from the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon Claims Office, she says things have been moving faster.

“I’m okay with that. It is taxpayer money. And they have to account for every dollar,” Micahlynn said.

For now, they’re still waiting to see what they’ll get paid for; but like the greenery growing back up around the charred trees—hope is still growing here at the Kaza’s.

“What we intend to do with the property, we’re still moving forward. Set back a year or two, that’s fine. In fact, I invited FEMA to come back in five years and do a follow up of, ‘hey we got our settlement, here’s what we did with it,'” Micahlynn said. The Kaza’s say their plans were to turn the property into a horse adventure park where the public can come explore the trails and ponds.

Micahlynn said the feds have a deadline to give them an offer on their claim by November 1.