A preliminary report on the 2010 Fourmile Canyon wildfire in Boulder County shows insured losses exceeded $200 million, fire management costs will have exceeded $14 million following rehabilitation efforts, and that while fire responders’ efforts were well-executed, the fire spread fast and burned intensely due to the area it was in and the large amount of vegetation.
The fire, considered one of the most destructive in state history, destroyed 168 homes. The report states that 474 homes were located inside of the fire’s perimeter or within 100 feet. According to the report, 157 homes were destroyed within the first 12 hours of the fire.
“The Fourmile Canyon Fire destroyed the highest (168) number of homes with the greatest loss in value ($217 million insured loss) in Colorado since 1976 when wildfire records started,” the report states.
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who asked for the report, announced the preliminary findings.
After touring the site of the fire last year, Udall said he was struck by the intensity of the fire and how indiscriminately it hit homes and buildings, with some structures being spared while others were completely destroyed.
“We had a chance to study the things that went wrong – and what was done right – to ensure that we can react better to future wildfires,” Udall said in a statement. “This fire taught us that the most important yard tool you can have if you live in a wildfire-prone area is not a chainsaw; it’s a rake and a weed-whacker. This won’t always protect your home from wildfire – some Fourmile Fire homeowners worked hard to create defensible space and still lost their homes – but it’s a concrete step that can make a huge difference. We all have a role to play in fighting wildfire.”
Researchers found that the condition of the home ignition zone–the design, materials and the maintenance of the home and the area 100 feet around it–were critical to whether a home survived the fire.
A portion of the report contains a 2007 survey, which had included 127 of the landowners who were evacuated during the Fourmile Canyon Fire. They and others were surveyed regarding their perceptions of their wildfire risk and mitigations efforts.
While survey respondents were familiar with wildfire—83 percent reported being somewhat or very aware of wildfire risk—most did not believe that characteristics of their home and immediate surroundings were significant factors influencing the likelihood of a wildfire damaging their property within the next five years.
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