Local News

Group: Colorado's most devastating wildfire didn't have to happen in Black Forest

People in Palmer Lake trading beauty for safety

PALMER LAKE, Colo. - "That's why I have insurance."

"I moved here for the trees. I'm not cutting them down."

"It won't happen to me."

The Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partnership (PPWPP) says those are the kinds of answers they got when they asked Black Forest residents why they didn't fire mitigate their properties.

More than 14,000 acres burned in the June, 2013 fire. Firefighters say with proper mitigation, some of that land could have been saved.

The PPWPP's goal is to reduce wildfire risks.

Charred trees still remain in Black Forest, and Palmer Lake is being proactive to make sure a wildfire doesn't happen in their area.

"Everybody is taking a step to mitigate the duff and cleaning up the dead," said Mike Brickell, a resident of Palmer Lake.

The report says firefighters had warned people in the Black Forest that it's not a matter of if a wildfire happens, but when it happens.

Palmer Lake Fire Lt. Tyler Ruona has been telling his residents the same thing.

The PPWPP says that there were property owners who did mitigate, which helped during the Black Forest Fire, but not nearly enough.

Ruona agrees with that.

"It's not one guy just doing their home, it's their neighbor and the community all joining together to mitigate," he said.

Brickell says Palmer Lake is a historic town.

"Some of these houses are 120 years old," he said.

Brickell hopes his town's history doesn't include having a wildfire destroy it.

The state is offering a 50/50 grant for people in Palmer Lake who do fire mitigation on their property.

If you spend $1,000 on fire mitigation, you could receive $500 back.

For more information call the Palmer Lake Fire Department at 719-481-2902.

To view the PPWPP report click here.

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