As I’ve said, I never learned how to do professional media analysis. Still I think it’s worth comparing the Rolodex Factor of the Denver Post story here to that of the NPR story below. These people are livin’ it, rather than modelin’ it. I give Bruce a 9.5/10 for this story.
Below is an excerpt:
Community fireproofing avoids the core issue of building in burn zones and, fire chiefs warn, is powerless against wind-driven super fires, such as the High Park, Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires that destroyed more than 1,000 homes this year and last.
Yet proponents contend that better community self-protection will minimize destruction.
“If it is a big crowning fire, we know what could happen. But if it is a moderate fire, we will have a fair chance of surviving,” said retiree Jim Lee, 69, who installed a rooftop sprinkler on his house in the woods near Frisco.
Lee also ripped cedar panels off the house and replaced them with nonflammable cement siding and switched roofing to fire-resistant shingles. He cleared a firebreak around the house, and got a special permit to thin dead pines 100 feet into the adjacent national forest.
Lake Dillon Fire Rescue District Deputy Chief Jeff Berino called Lee’s home “incredibly well-defended” — the gold standard as Summit County girds against wildfires likely to ignite on 156,000 acres of beetle-killed forest.
Dealing with Colorado’s wildfire problem more aggressively — by banning new building in burn zones — would probably be impossible, state natural resources officials say.
“It’s extremely hard to say to an individual who has bought land in the mountains that they cannot build on it. They may even have a legal right to develop it,” said Colorado Counties Inc. lobbyist Andy Karsian. “Development in the wildland-urban interface is going to happen. The question is how we find that balance between the personal responsibility for living in an area that will have fire and having good regulations.”
Strategies evolving While fireproofing must not substitute for wise planning, it makes sense, said Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest, which spans an area from Meeker to Breckenridge and is plagued by a beetle epidemic.
“More and more of the risk associated with wildland firefighting is in the protection of homes and other structures,” Fitzwilliams said. “When we have these communities built right up against the National Forest boundary, we have a challenge to ensure we can manage or at least try to fight fire in a safe manner.”
and dealing with existing development:
But fireproofing has limits.
Policy debate”We can make the mountains safe by paving them. That’s not why we live in Colorado,” state emergency management director Kevin Klein said. “What level of protection are we going to to be able to afford and still enjoy what makes many people want to live in Colorado? That’s what policymakers are going to debate.”
Klein serves on a state task force charged with recommending state-level action to help deal with building in burn zones.
Beyond fireproofing houses and towns, “we have to look at where we are allowing new development to occur,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, who works as a wildland firefighter. “I don’t want to be voting for new development in areas where I think there’s going to be a major, catastrophic fire.”
Dealing with existing development looms largely unaddressed. Fireproofing tens of thousands of homes in forests could cost homeowners millions. An indoor water sprinkler system or underground cistern can raise house-building costs by more than $10,000.
There seem to be enough problems in Colorado without invoking future climate change.
A 2012 CoreLogic study of 13 Western states for insurers shows that after California and Texas, Colorado has more high-risk homes than any other state. At a time when dense forests and drought lead to high-speed wildfires, the study found 121,249 Colorado homes at very high risk for wildfire damage.
Texas is number 2 with one national forest. Who knew? Here’s a link to the CoreLogic study. Kudos to Bruce for linking to the source of the data.