COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs leaders made the removal of home debris a priority after the Waldo Canyon fire, and most homeowners honored the request to have their lots clean by Sept. 30.
However, 16 homeowners still have not removed rubble and ash, or obtained a wrecking permit to remove foundations and burned vegetation, said Bob Croft of the Regional Building Department.
"It's mainly because of insurance ," said Croft, referring to affected homeowners relying on their insurance carriers to pay for and conduct removal. "But some couples are still having difficulty making up their minds on what they want to do."
Croft said code enforcement officers will be visiting the remaining lots to learn why they have not been cleaned yet. He said before rebuilding can start, every lot must be restored to a level that will prevent erosion.
The fire destroyed 346 homes, and Croft said he was doubtful that 330 lots would be clean by now.
A local construction company, GE Johnson, removed two foundations for free to show homeowners how it would be done. Croft said the free work apparently helped motivate homeowners.
Still, the process was frustratingly slow at times. Steve Bamber, who lost his home in the fire, said it took about seven weeks to clean his lot, and he understands why some homeowners have yet to do so.
"There's a lot of people in shock, so they've been really slow to get the process going," said Bamber.
Twenty-nine building permits have been issued, but some homeowners don't plan to rebuild and instead will sell their lots.
The debris was taken to three approved dump sites in El Paso County.