Graphic Credit: Gazette.com
For residents in El Paso County, Colorado, the month of June will always be a point of reflection after two historically record breaking wildfire events impacted the county in 2012 and 2013; just fifteen miles apart from each other. The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 347 homes and burned 18,247 acres in June 2012; and the Black Forest Fire destroyed 488 homes and burned 14,280 acres in June 2013. Each fire took the lives of two residents; the similarities of the two events have not been replicated in the rebuilding and recovery process.
As the Mountain Shadows and Black Forest communities continue down their paths of recovery, the Gazette newspaper has chronicled their dissimilar journey in an excellent series: Disasters: Recovery, Reflection. The series profiles the very different rebuilding and recovery lessons learned from the two fires. The distinctly differently outcomes of these two fires is evident in the progress and pain still being felt in both communities where disaster struck less than a year apart.
The people and their problems vary greatly in the western and northern parts of the county where the lessons learned have not been the same; even though they’re just a short distance apart.
Prior to moving to the Denver metro area six years ago, I lived in El Paso County for twenty-eight years and during that time I lived and owned several homes close to where both fires happened. The stories of what happened to the communities I cherish provide important lessons for everyone living in an area with a wildfire risk.