Larimer County officials Use Angora Fire for High Park Fire Recovery Work
Jackie Hutchins, Reporter-Herald, June 25, 2012She also cited fire recovery efforts in El Dorado County, Calif., where 254 houses ... Hoffman based her estimate of $7.5 million on the El Dorado County fire.
Remains of homes, cars and trees smolder along Columbine Drive on Saturday. Fire Chief Scott Dorman reported the area around Columbine and Narcissus sustained the most loss from the Woodland Park Fire.
Larimer County will hire a disaster recovery manager for six months to help the county respond to the High Park fire, now at 83,262 acres, 248 homes lost and in its 18th day.
As more than 2,000 firefighters continue to battle the blaze, now at 55 percent containment, county commissioners held a work session Monday to look at the costs the county may need to bear as the area attempts to recover from what is now the second-biggest fire in state history.
Commissioners agreed County Manager Linda Hoffmann should begin searching for someone to be the temporary recovery manager.
She said she hopes to have that person working by July 15.
In a nearly two-hour work session, commissioners examined 34 line items of 52 that Hoffmann identified as potential fire recovery costs, and said they would schedule another work session to look at the others.
The list identifies $15 million in costs and only $4 million in revenue for recovery efforts, Commissioner Tom Donnelly noted.
"We need to plan for a worst case," Hoffmann told him, noting there may be more than
$4 million available for recovery.
She said she is hearing the overall fire costs could be in the $40 million to $50 million range.
'Just Watch the Money'
Much of the advice the county has received from state about potential needs and costs is based on what has happened in other areas hit by fire or other disasters.
Hoffmann said the town manager of Windsor, who has experience recovering from a devastating tornado in 2008, told her, "just watch the money ... because the money can get away from us very fast."
The second emergency declaration by Gov. John Hickenlooper allocates up to $25 million for both fire suppression and recovery.
Hoffmann said she is trying to find out if that means the county can use some of that money for recovery, "assuming there's any money left after fighting the fire."
The fire cost as of Sunday night was $29.6 million.
Other suggestions for a county role and cost estimates are based on what happened after other devastating fires.
Commissioner Steve Johnson said county officials should look at whether there are things other groups can do, and at what county government needs to do.
"I don't think we should do things that an insurance company is going to reimburse for," he added.
Hoffmann said state experts think only 10 or 15 percent of fire victims are not insured, whereas county staff at Disaster Recovery Center, citing what they are hearing from people coming in, think the percentage is probably closer to 25 percent.
Johnson also asked if there are things that could be done more efficiently if the county handles them, such as cleanup.
Hoffmann said that's what Boulder County did in the wake of its Fourmile Canyon fire in 2010.
She also cited fire recovery efforts in El Dorado County, Calif., where 254 houses burned in the Angora fire in 2007.
There property owners signed agreements to allow workers hired by the county to enter property to clean up and to reimburse the county from their insurance if they had it.