Five months later, Lower North Fork victims await resolution

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DENVER – Nearly five months after the Lower North Fork Fire destroyed two dozen homes and killed three people, survivors are venting their frustrurations over the long and arduous recovery.

The Lower North Fork Fire burned 4,000 acres after investigators say embers from a nearby prescribed burn grew out of control, threatening homes.

“I know you have many questions…we will listen but we cannot answer those questions,” said a state lawmaker to a crowded room of fire survivors. Following Monday’s meeting many reported feeling unsatisfied with the state’s efforts to compensate victims for the blaze.

“This was started by a group that you and I pay taxes to for their salary,” said Sharon Scanlan, a Jefferson County resident who lost her home in March.

Several lawsuits are already pending against the state of Colorado for damages caused by the fire.

“This was an activity sanctioned by the state, prescribed by the state and there should be some responsibility by the state,” Governor John Hickenlooper said.

“We all know our property values have plummeted because of this,” homeowner Ross Eckel said. “To what degree we’re trying to find out.”

While Eckel’s home is still standing, his neighborhood is gone. He worries that survivors will be forgotten.

“We just don’t want to be brushed off and put into the oblivion of time,” Eckel said.

“I’m really working on that forgiveness thing,” Scanlan added. “But it would be a whole lot easier if we could get some recompense from the state.”

Survivors are expected to meet with state lawmakers again in late August.


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