Flash Point: The Aftermath of Wildfire

March 25, 2013

The story of wildfire doesn't end after the flames are gone. Wide ranging effects are ongoing such as the the possibility of flooding, victims' recovery efforts, changes to building codes and more:

Flooding
Access
Building Codes

Emergency Preparedness Town Hall at Ute Pass Elementary
Video Source: El Paso County Sheriff


Changed Landscape Means Flooding Potential for Years to Come (July 17, 2012)

The Forest Service team that's been working to determine burn severity in the Waldo Canyon fire area held a closed-door briefing yesterday with regional and federal groups to talk about flooding potentials. It's still considered an emergency situation, and as KRCC's Andrea Chalfin reports, the changed landscape will have an effect for years to come.


Assessing Flood Risk in the Waldo Canyon Burn Areas (July 13, 2012)

Residents in and near the Waldo Canyon burn areas have been encouraged to purchase flood insurance if they don’t already have it. New federal legislation recently signed into law waives a 30-day waiting period for some new policies to take effect. Meanwhile, a team of scientists has been examining damaged land to understand the flood risks associated with the fire. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin recently traveled to Cascade to see the science behind the assessments, and to understand why flooding becomes such a risk after fire.

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(See a larger version of this map here.)



With Highway 24 under threat of closure due to potential flooding, many have called for the reopening of Rampart Range Road. But as the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, that's not likely to happen.



Colorado Springs City Council adopted new fire codes (Jan 8, 2013).

Residents of Mountain Shadows who lost homes to the Waldo Canyon fire will have to abide by a stricter fire code when they rebuild. As KRCC's Liz Ruskin reports, Colorado Springs City Council today passed new rules for the city’s hillside neighborhoods.

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The codes require new houses on the western edge to be made from more fire-resistant materials. They also include landscaping restrictions. The rules are projected to add about $6,000 to construction costs per home.

Several people who lost properties in Mountain Shadows say the new rules just add to their woes. Jonni McCoy spoke at the council session, saying her insurance is only paying about 50 cents on the dollar.

"So we’re already having to choose what things not to ever replace. If these burdens are placed on us, we have to choose even further what not to replace in order to pay for the code. I don’t think that’s fair."

Older houses in the neighborhood won’t have to bring their properties up to the new standards.
Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko says she understands how they feel but says it’s a start to creating a safer city. It passed 6-2, with councilors Angela Doogan and Tim Leigh voting no. Council President Scott Hente was recused.

(PDF of new codes.)


• Main Flash Point: Living with Wildfire page with an interactive timeline.


• A Disaster Is A Disaster: The Nature Of Emergency Management
• Waldo Canyon Fire Victims: Recovering Without Rebuilding
• The Wildland Urban Interface: Where the Wilderness Meets Civilization
• The Double Bind: Forest Treatment In The Age of Megafires
• Wildfires and Climate Change Perception


This post was published on 4/25/13.