Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the couple lived in Junction City, not Manhattan. We regret the error.

JUNCTION CITY (KSNT) – A Junction City couple is picking up the pieces after they had to watch 20 years of their lives disappear when a fire got out of control and burned their home down.

Army Vietnam Veteran Jay Allen Lindsey, 78, and his wife 66-year-old Carlena Lindsey came home to the sound of popping and cracking, as the home they built themselves burned April 12, according to Carlena.

“We turned down Otter Creek (Road) and the fire was jumping from the neighbor’s property to ours,” Carlena said. “The wind was picking up embers and making fire tornados in the sky and unfortunately one of them fell on our roof… Pulled up behind the barn and stopped and watched the fire burn our house. We lost 20 years of our lives in less than an hour.”

When the Herington Fire Department showed up roughly 10 minutes after the Lindsey’s got home, they avoided extinguishing the fire because of a propane tank near the home.

“Craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Carlena said “When they’re finally there they do nothing and your heart sinks because you sit there and watch 20 years of your life burn to the ground.”

Carlena, who was exposed to the smoke for about seven hours as she watched the home burn, contracted pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. Carlena’s medical expenses weren’t covered under Medicaid so the Episcopal Church-The Covenant in Junction City stepped up to the plate and created a GoFundMe to help.

“I think the picture I sent to you summarized how he felt,” Carlena said regarding Jay mood after seeing the fire. “When he saw the tornado fire he said: that’s it, I’m done, I’m selling the land and not coming back.”

The fire started on April 10 when the Lindsey’s neighbors started a trash fire, according to Carlena. That Monday, Herington fire crews thought they had extinguished the fire but it rekindled on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday. On Wednesday, the Lindsey’s were coming home from a doctor’s appointment in Abilene and saw smoke while traveling on I-70.

“I told my husband it didn’t look good, looked pretty close,” Carlena said.

Carlena said all possessions were completely lost in the fire, she said only a steel shelf could be identified, even the refrigerator was unrecognizable.

Two firefighters from the Herington Fire Department worked for hours to save the couple’s two paint horses, two cats out buildings and barn, according to an email from Carlena.

The Lindsey’s are planning to build the home back, thanks to homeowners insurance and the assistance of Satterwhite Companies, Inc. out of Longview, TX. The rebuilding process won’t begin until next spring, according to Carlena. Once the basement is installed and cured, the Texas company will build a log house shell within five days. Carlena said sheetrock and roofing will need to be completed separately.

“I just want people to realize one bit of stupidity can change the course of a persons life instantly,” Carlena said. “And it’s just because of people burning trash.”

If you’d like to contribute to the GoFundMe page created to help the Lindseys with their medical bills click here.