Creek Fire: Cabin built in memory of fallen soldier destroyed by wildfire

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family cabin built literally with blood, sweat and tears by Jeannie Ingels and her family to honor their fallen soldier has fallen itself.

Burned to the ground by the unmerciful Creek Fire that didn't spare it like it did others right next door. The tribute to Army PFC Raymond Mendoza was built a year after the Clovis East grad was killed while on duty in 2003.

"He loved the mountains so when they shipped his body home I decided to build his legacy in Shaver. He loved Shaver Lake, he had that mountain blood," said Mendoza's mother Jeannie Ingels.

Jeannie hasn't seen the destroyed cabin but the pictures are enough for now.

"It's just hard...you know," she said through tears. "I haven't walked through the rubble yet, it's nothing but a picture."

ABC30 was escorted to the Dogwood community by a neighbor who also lost his cabin. Jeannie kept Ray's irreplaceable commendation medals, letters, pictures and other mementos at her cabin.

"The greatest loss is that I no longer have his dog tags and his boots, his Army boots and fatigues," she said.

But what she does have is the unwavering support of her family, friends, and mountain neighbors.

"I'm grateful for all the love from all the people in my community," she said.

Jeannie says it will be up to her two other children on whether to re-build the cabin.

It wasn't only for their family to enjoy but Jeannie made it a point to rent it out to other military members and their families as a place to rest and relax - furthering Raymond's legacy that some gave all.
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