Homes at risk to wildfire could come under inspection

Homes at risk to wildfire could come underinspection

26 January 2007

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Montrose, USA — The dream house in the hills could be a little moredifficult to insure for some homeowners if it sits in an area at high risk ofwildfire.

Allstate has already started an inspection program near four southwesternColorado towns and could eventually contact Montrose County homeowners this year,a company spokeswoman said.

Megan Brunet, regional communication consultant for the company, said Allstatestarted its inspection program because of the drought that has plagued the statethrough the early part of the decade.

For those homeowners determined to be in high-risk areas, inspectors willlook for a For those homeowners determined to be in high-risk areas, inspectorswill look for a laundry list of factors that make their homes more vulnerable towildfire.

Inspectors are looking for homes that have of wood roofs. Chimneys should havespark arresters.

Houses should also have at least 50 feet of defensible space from the nearestvegetation, but Brunet said that requirement could soon be changed to 100 feet.Moreover, no trees should touch any part of the property.

The property in question must also be accessible by any vehicle type in allseasons.

“If four-wheel drive is required to access that property then that isunacceptable,” Brunet said.

Allstate will give homeowners one year to address concerns identified byinspectors.

Brunet said the consequences of any concerns that go unaddressed would beconsidered on a case-by-case basis by insurance agents and adjustors.

Homeowners who live within five road miles of a fire station would not besubject to inspection unless they live on an unpaved road, which has a 5-percentgrade or steeper.

The number of homeowners who live in an area within five road miles of a firestation will increase in the coming years as the Montrose Fire ProtectionDistrict moves ahead with construction approved by voters last spring.

Construction crews are working on a new station at Woodgate and Racine roadsthat should be completed this year. The district will get to work on a secondstation near Spring Creek and 62.00 roads in 2012.

In the meantime, homeowners who live within five road miles of the fire stationand within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant have a class 5 rating from the InsuranceService Office. Those who live within five road miles but do not meet the firehydrant standard are listed as a class 9. Properties that don’t meet eitherstandard are listed as a class 10.

On that scale class 10 is the worst and class 1 is the best.

“Once the fire station is built the fire district will ask ISO to come in andre-grade us in the hopes of lowering those protection classifications,” MFPDDeputy Fire Chief Dale Erickson said.

Allstate began contacting homeowners in 22 zip codes across the state last fall.Affected towns in the southwestern part of the state include Telluride, LakeCity, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs.

State Farm insurance company started its own effort to examine policyholders inareas with high wildfire risk in 2003.

Chris Hudson, a Colorado-based spokesman for the company, said the 2002 HaymanFire, which scorched roughly 137,000 acres, prompted State Farm to examinewildfire risks to its policy holders.

So far, State Farm has inspected 15,500 homes in the state.

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