El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is disputing statements made by Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey that this summer’s wildfire that destroyed more than 500 homes and killed two people was caused by humans and "likely intentional."
Once again this summer, the Western United States saw plenty of forest fires. Some continue to burn. When the flames are extinguished, the dollar signs emerge, and states handle fire suppression costs differently. In Colorado, it depends on what kind of land is burning and how big the blaze is.
Local Freelance Photojournalist Bryan Oller took some of the most memorable photos of the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, and he’s been covering the flooding in Manitou. I spoke with him about the challenges of documenting disasters so close to home.
With thunderstorms in the forecast for the next few days, the possibility of flash flooding in El Paso County remains. As KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports, the county is working to repair roads in the Black Forest area damaged in last weekend’s floods.
The county is placing road maintenance equipment in Black Forest so it can quickly remove flood debris and keep drainages open. County Spokesman Dave Rose says the big challenge is a large drainage system that runs south through the burn area and then along Shoup Road, an important east-west route.
Sandbags will be available to homeowners facing impacts from potential flash flooding in and near the Waldo Canyon burn scar. They'll be given away free at the Verizon Wireless building on Garden of the Gods Road from 8 - 2 Saturday. The sand comes from last week's Olympic Downtown Celebration and its sand volleyball pit.
The federal government has approved a major disaster declaration for the Royal Gorge Fire in Fremont County. The declaration means federal aid is available to deal with the effects, including unemployment benefits for Royal Gorge Bridge & Park employees and others who are out of work after this summer’s wildfire, who aren’t otherwise eligible for state jobless benefits. Aid is also available for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. Governor John Hickenlooper’s office says a similar request for the Black Forest Fire is pending.
Preliminary estimates show insurance companies will pay almost $300 million dollars to homeowners affected by the Black Forest Fire. About 3,600 auto and homeowner insurance claims have been filed since the June wildfire, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. But Executive Director Carole Walker expects that number will grow.