- By: Marshall Zelinger – Denver 7 News
Residents ask: Why no state help?
CONIFER, Colo. – Six months have passed since the Lower North Fork fire, but plenty of evidence remains.
On Sunday, survivors of the fire spent the day clearing dead trees from the property of Sam and Linda Lucas, two of the three who died in the fire.
The fire also killed Ann Appel, whose husband, Scott, helped in Sunday’s cleanup.
“This is a dirty job,” said survivor Tom Scanlan.
Scanlan’s mouth and cheeks were blackened as though he painted it in the process of becoming a clown.
“Sweat kind of gets wiped and, you know, we aren’t out here for a beauty contest,” said Scanlan.
Many of the residents want to know why they’re out there at all.
“I guess what we’re looking for is just somebody to step up and do what’s right and help us out while we’re helping ourselves,” said Scanlan.
“Who should be doing this cleanup?” asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.
“I think it should be the (Colorado State) Forest Service,” said Scanlan.
“It should have already been done by the State Forest Service,” said survivor Andy Hoover. “They started the damn fire and it’s their responsibility. It’s their obligation to clean up after themselves.”
7NEWS contacted the Colorado State Forest Service. The deputy forester told 7NEWS because of pending lawsuits, no one could comment.
7NEWS was the first to report in April that the lawsuits are not from victims, but rather insurance companies and a power company, seeking reimbursement for costs incurred as a result of the fire.
“What I think we’d all like answered is, ‘Why hasn’t the state stepped up to their responsibility?'” said Scanlan. “All (the state has) offered us is advice and networking.”
“We’re trying, from the Office of Emergency Management, to secure the resources and the funding directly to Jefferson County, so that they can provide the assistance to the families,” said Micki Trost, the spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management. “We provide the funding and resources to Jefferson County who then supports directly the citizens that are affected.”
Lower North Fork residents tell 7NEWS that they don’t want resources they can utilize, they want the state to cleanup what it admitted to being responsible for.
Trost told 7NEWS that on Sunday, $300,000 became available from the Department of Natural Resources to Colorado State University for Lower North Fork reforestation help. She did not know if that also meant help with clearing the dead trees.
“We made a big dent in it today. It’ll take a whole lot more work, however, to make this look like something you could live in,” said Scanlan.