New report says mitigation efforts paid off in Waldo Canyon Fire

New report says mitigation efforts paid off in Waldo Canyon Fire

01 April 2013

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USA — COLORADO SPRINGS — A new report has been released from an outside party that looks at the Waldo Canyon Fire and the city’s preparedness for it.

The report was released by Fire Adapted Communities (FAC).

It was the result of interviews, field visits and tours of the neighborhoods most affected by the fire.

The FAC report showed the city’s approach to mitigation over the last 10 years had a major impact on the results.

“There is no acceptable loss in terms of the lives and the property that was lost,” Christina Randall, Colorado Springs Fire Department Wildfire Mitigation Administrator, said.

The fire destroyed 346 homes and was responsible for the deaths of two people. But the latest reports shows the damage could have been much worse.

“I think that people were shocked about the fire behavior that we saw, but the fire department wasn’t shocked,” Randall said. “We knew that there was certainly a potential for wildland fire and that type of fire behavior in our city,”

CSFD said they identified the risk back in 1999 and for more than a decade have worked to mitigate it.

“In Colorado Springs we have a very robust education outreach program, we have a fuels management program, we have a development review process,” Randall said.

According to the report, those efforts made a difference and helped firefighters reach an 82 percent save rate.

“I think it shows real well for the city of Colorado Springs and their leadership as well as the fire department for the processes that we’ve tried to incorporate over the last 12 years,” Brett Lacey, Fire Marshal for CSFD, said.

The Waldo Canyon Fire has come and gone but the risk for another wildland fire remains and it extends far beyond the Mountain Shadows Community.

“This is a community problem, not a fire department problem, not a city of Colorado Springs problem. It’s our entire community,” Lacey said.

CSFD said its important for everyone to do their part to keep the community safe.

“Now is the time of year to get ready. When you’re starting to do work on your property, do the gardening and the landscaping, that you go out there and you’re thinking about mitigating your property,” Randall said. “This is the time of year to do it. The sooner the better.”

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