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Black Forest community to adopt new fire codes, ordinances

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -- Some of the nearly 500 homes burned to the ground in the Black Forest Fire might still be standing if they had proper fire mitigation.

Black Forest's fire chief said the community must adopt longstanding fire codes and ordinances that help properties survive, even in a fire of such a large magnitude.

"We will be taking a very tough tact on this issue for future reconstruction in the Black Forest. There will be no recourse. We will hold to a very stringent code or they will not get fire department approval," said Black Forest fire chief Bob Harvey.

Some of the restrictions include using non-combustible vegetation. That means volatile trees like Junipers could not be anywhere within 30 feet of a home.

Better venting systems might also be required to keep embers out of homes, and non-combustible roofs made of concrete could be standard.

Resident Jim Borgstede said improved fire mitigation could save some homes, but it`s certainly not a complete solution.

"My whole neighborhood has mitigated for a year, and that didn't save some of their properties," Borgstede said.

But fire experts say the Black Forest community has fewer and fewer options.

"We're seeing big problems within the insurability in these wild areas. It will only become more difficult. Because now we have two significant fires within 10 miles of each other in less than a year," Harvey said.

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