Tag Archives: Colorado State Forest Service

State Senate committee approves $17.6 million payment for Lower North Fork Fire victims

State Senate committee approves $17.6 million payment for Lower North Fork Fire victims

Marshall Zelinger

Senate Appropriations CommitteeDENVER – A State Senate committee has approved a last-minute effort to pay Lower North Fork Fire victims the full amount recommended by an independent panel.

“We want to provide some aspect of closure of these 19 families,” State Senator Jeanne Nicholson said at the start of a committee on the payment. “They should not have to wait until January.”

Three victims of the fire testified Friday morning at the committee, including Sam Lucas whose parents were killed in the fire.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the bill seven to zero. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

The March 2012 fire, which started as a prescribed burn by the State Forest Service, destroyed more than 4,000 acres, 22 homes, and claimed three lives.

Earlier this month, the state claims board announced it was willing to pay victims $11 million — over seven million less than an independent panel had recommended. The victims had agreed in court to work with the panel to determine the value of their losses not covered by insurance.

After hearing the offer from the claims board, the victims returned to court and asked the judge to order the independent panel recommendations be forwarded to the state legislature to be approved for payment.

The state Joint Budget Committee has already set aside $11 million to pay victims. After hearing the testimony Friday morning, the committee began to discuss where the additional funding could come from to reach a total of $17.6 million.

The bill must pass through the entire Senate next. Then the bill goes to a committee and to the full House for a vote, before potentially ending up on the Governor’s desk.

The bill allows victims to be paid no later than Sept. 1.

“They will never be made whole,” said State Senator Bill Cadman. “Their path to healing has no end.”

For a bill to pass through the legislative process, it needs at least three days. The last day of this legislative session is May 7.

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Judge orders state to reinstate $5 million in compensation to Lower North Fork fire victims

Judge orders state to reinstate $5 million in compensation to Lower North Fork fire victims

Marshall Zelinger, Alan Gathright – 7 News

SuthersJEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – A Jefferson County judge has ruled against State Attorney General John Suthers, saying victims of the devastating Lower North Fork fire should receive $5 million more than the State Claims Board was willing to pay.

The March 2012 wildfire, which started as a prescribed burn by the State Forest Service, destroyed 22 homes and charred 4,100 acres. It killed three people: Sam Lucas, Linda Lucas and Ann Appel.

Fire victims have waited two years for the state of Colorado to pay them back for the fire that destroyed their community and forever changed their lives.

People say they feel victimized all over again by the legal battle with the state over their fire claims.


“We keep getting burned over and over and over again in a different way,” said Scott Appel, whose wife, Ann, died in the firestorm that destroyed their home and charred their property.

An independent panel of four retired judges spent two months reviewing victims’ claims and recommended the state pay about $16.4 million to 19 families.

However, earlier this month, the State Claims Board reduced that compensation to $11 million, a figure that doesn’t include non-economic losses like death and emotional distress. The board’s members are Attorney General Suthers, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and state Director of Personnel Kathy Nesbitt.

In one victim’s case, the board recommended reducing a $4.5 million payment to $3.1 million.

The board recommended cutting another victim’s compensation from $146,000 to $63,000.

But on Friday night, District Judge Dennis Hall ruled the State Claims Board was wrong and reinstated the $16.4 million recommended by the independent panel of retired judges. Hall also ordered the victims’ be paid for non-economic losses, which could include compensation loss of life and emotional distress.

For victims, the judge’s is ruling is a step toward resolution of the two-year legal struggle.

But residents such as Scott Appel have become used to unexpected reversals in this process.

“I had no idea how difficult and expensive the process would be,” Appel said.

In May 2013, Judge Hall “The Special Masters’ determinations of value will be final and binding on the participating parties.” That meant the four-judge panel’s ruling on how much victims’ are owed would be binding on the victims and the state.

But then the State Claims Board reduced the special masters’ compensation amounts.

“Presto change-o, the deal’s off once again,” Scott Appel said. “Where I come from, binding means binding.”

The victims went back to court asking Judge Hall honor the independent panel’s recommendations.

The attorney general objected, saying any court judgment would be limited to the state’s total $600,000 liability limit for all victims.

In a court document filed on April 15, the attorney general wrote, “the claims board, as a separate deliberative body, is not bound” by the independent panel.

In his Friday ruling, Judge Hall rejected that argument.

“The intent of the legislature was to permit trial courts to enter judgment against the state in amounts exceeding the tort cap,” Hall stated. “The attorney general’s objection… is not well taken.”

Fire victim Tom Scalan has had a belly full of the State Claims Board, which cut his compensation offer almost in half.

“The attorney general is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, he is not consistent,” Scanlan said.

“I am exhausted by the deceit and treachery that I’ve seen,” the weary fire victim added.

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State Victimizes Lower North Fork Fire Survivors Again!

State Victimizes Lower North Fork Fire Survivors Again!

agTwo long years ago the State irresponsibly and callously lit a match in the forest in the driest March on record and left smoldering embers to reignite when predicted 80 mph winds spread the raging Lower North Fork Wildfire through a quiet, unprotected community near Conifer.  Now the Attorney General is again ravaging the survivors’ hopes in court, asserting the State has no responsibility for righting the wrong they have admitted to.  Their story has been a travesty of justice by the State led by the Attorney General and Governor for over 2 years.

May 2012 the Governor and Attorney General promised speedy restitution for the damages done, which included killing 3 people and destroying 23 homes and property.  Then instead of implementing the law passed by the Legislature to provide speedy restitution, the Attorney General brought suit against the survivors only months later in July 2012, forcing them into the State’s ongoing lawsuit with the insurance companies.  This required the victims to hire lawyers to protect their rights, further traumatizing them and increasing their crushing financial burdens.  The Attorney General’s next ploy was to assert the State did not have the resources to evaluate the victims’ claims.  He also went on record in the press blaming the survivors for delaying the process when it was his office that initiated the lawsuit against the victims.

This resulted in  over a year of fighting the State in court to protect their rights.  After months of legal delays a process of binding arbitration was agreed upon by all parties in court.  The one ray of hope in this whole disaster was when the Judicial Arbiters Group, an organization of prestigious judges with vast experience in resolving claims including fire losses, volunteered to act as Special Masters for the court to value the victims’ claims.

The Governor and the Attorney General agreed the State to be bound by the Special Masters’ findings.  The victims had to go even further and waive their rights to a trial by a jury of their peers.

Now that the Special Masters have completed their month’s long evaluation of the victim’s claims in a trial setting, the Attorney General has  blatently rejected the claims in court.

When will the torment end for our neighbors?  When will someone stand up to the Governor and Attorney General and say enough?!  Has the State of Colorado lost all sense of fairness, responsibility and caring for its neighbors?

We only ask for what the Victims and the State agreed to in Binding Arbitration; that we are compensated what the JAG has awarded us so we can finally move on with our lives and put this sad chapter of Colorado history behind us.

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Families feel victimized again by Lower North Fire Fire settlement process

Families feel victimized again by Lower North Fire Fire settlement process

KDVR Denver – Dave Young

DENVER — Two years after the deadly and destructive Lower North Fork Fire, Coloradans are still fighting for compensation from the state.

Tuesday, angry reaction from families who lost loved ones in that wildfire as the State Claims Board makes settlement offers to the victims.

In March 2012, the Colorado State Forest Service conducted a prescribed burn that went out of control.

Three people died in the fast-moving wildfire and 27 homes were destroyed or damaged.

FOX31 Denver’s Dave Young explains in his video report how the process of settlements has made survivors feel like victims all over again.

 

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Lower North Fork Fire Timeline

Lower North Fork Fire Timeline

p (1)The Lower North Fork Fire in Colorado, just west of Denver over a year ago, caused untold physical damage and killed 3 people.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and FEMA was slow to act on behalf of the victims and over a year later FEMA aid has been denied for the victims and the State of Colorado has not only denied aid to the victims, but remarkably have thrown the victims into court…  Victims that have done nothing wrong.

March 26 2012 – A prescribed burn left unattended by the Colorado State Forest Service burns 4600 acres destroys 22 homes and kills 3 people

In the days that follow…

  • The State requests FEMA funding to pay the State’s firefightings costs.  These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.  The victims are never granted one penny in FEMA or State aid.  Their only aid and support is from kind and caring neighbors, local charities and businesses.
  • A few days after the fire victims meet with the Colorado Governor Hickenlooper after he tours the damage and ask him to do the right thing and approve aid for the victims.  He tells them the agency that caused the tragedy is not under his jurisdiction.
  • The head of the Colorado State Forest Service, that by neglect caused the fire, publicly apologizes for having caused it.
  • There is an investigation into the cause of the fire headed by a sister agency in the neighboring State of Wyoming.  They determine that proper procedures were not followed however, found no blame.
  • Victims are told there will be no State aid and FEMA aid was denied because State aid has not been exhausted.
  • The victims are forced to beg for aid in the press, each time reliving their painful tragedy over and over.  Nothing happens for several months and the victims through the media continue to apply pressure on the Governor and Legislature to do something.
  • 3 months later, and months of work while being homeless, the victims successfully get 2 bills passed.  One that promises an investigation into the disaster by a State Commission and the other allowing “the possibility” of aid/claims through the State Claims Board.  The Governor signs the bills with the victims as a backdrop promising quick aid with extensive positive media coverage.  The public now believes that the State has finally stepped up and the victims are now getting help.
  • Victims are instructed to file notices of claim with the State in order to get aid.  Victims spend days/hours compiling their claims to conform to according to government bureaucracy guidelines.
  • 1 month later the victims are shocked as they are dragged into court by the State Attorney General,and forced to join a lawsuit filed by insurance companies and utilities against their will;  blatantly disregarding the intent of the bills for quick aid passed just a month before.  Victims are now told the process will not be quick and will take years, if at all.
  • Victims are now forced to hire lawyers to protect themselves against the State incurring great expense while trying to rebuild their lives.
  • The victims testify at the six State Commission hearings over a period of 4 months.  The State Commission that was chartered to investigate the fire claims it does not have the resources to do so and the victims are forced to conduct their own investigation using public records.  They present their finding to the commission that clearly shows neglect on the part of the State.  The commissioners never call any employees of the State agency to testify that admittedly caused the fire citing concerns for State liability.  In the end… the commission… does nothing.
  • 6-12 months after the fire none of the homes destroyed by the fire have been rebuilt and many never will.  There is still no aid or process for claims as the State AG and his team of lawyers use legal maneuvering to delay in the court system.
  • 1 year after the fire the media with the victims again question the State about aid and lack of accountability.  The State AG responds by blaming the victims.
  • A small group of victims are granted a private meeting with Governor Hickenlooper.  He listens to their concerns and takes notes in a room full of lawyers, but says nothing.
  • The Governor and State Legislators continue to watch the State AG and his lawyers legal shenanigans…  and do nothing.  FEMA has done nothing.

15 months after the disaster;  There is still no State or Federal aid for the victims.  The victims have endured countless interviews in the media and court appearances.  They honestly never want to see a television camera again.  They are weary of driving to the State Capitol.  They are weary of being dragged into Court.  Victims were required to create stacks of paperwork to try and get aid and are constantly being blind sided by legal maneuvering of the State AG.

This is wrong.

We are the victims of the Lower North Fork Fire.

We did nothing wrong.

Why are we treated as enemies of the State of Colorado?

 

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Fire survivors face one-year anniversary of LNFF

Fire survivors face one-year anniversary of LNFF

WRITTEN BY LINDA KIRKPATRICK | 24 MARCH 2013
POSTED IN THE BLOGAZINE SECTION – LIFE IN EVERGREEN AS SEEN BY LINDA KIRKPATRICK

Friday marked a year since the controlled burn east of Conifer was first ignited by representatives of the State of Colorado.  Tuesday, when this is published, will mark the one-year anniversary of the fourth day when winds approaching 70 mph fanned unmonitored flames out of control, destroying 23 homes and killing 3 people.

On Friday I had a front-row seat in Judge Hall’s courtroom in Golden where attorneys outnumbered the survivors of the Lower North Fork fire able to attend.  The State and Denver Water had 10 attorneys collectively, while another 19 represented parties affected by the fire, including the insurance companies, utility companies and those who lost their homes.

One might think that, as long as these people were insured, they ought to be getting on with their lives.  But let me give you an example to make you think of your own situation should you ever lose a home to a fire.

 

Put yourself in this scenario

Let’s say you had a home in the area affected – on 10 acres worth $500,000 – and you’d been “pretty good” about updating values with your insurance agent since you’d moved in 15 years ago.  For starters, the insurance would have covered replacement of the house and contents — but insurance companies generally don’t insure the ground a home sits on.

Depending on the type of insurance coverage you had as a homeowner, you might be required to rebuild on the same piece of property.  In other cases, you would be given a settlement permitting you to build elsewhere or invest in an already-built home.

LNFF Sharon Scanlan with Jack Ruth and Jim Richard (1)To keep this simplified we will say that your acreage with the spectacular views was worth $140,000, so you are given a payout for $360,000, plus an additional amount for

the contents of your house.  (My insurance-agent friends will give me a hard time about oversimplifying, but this isn’t meant to be a technical document.)

Meanwhile, you are having to pay $1,800 for temporary accommodations in addition to making the mortgage payments and home equity loan installments.

You consider a move elsewhere to get a fresh start, but your $140,000 lot is now worth only $35,000 because of the landscape, so selling is not an option.  Plus, it’s all tied into that $450,000 mortgage….

If you rebuild on your existing lot, you must clear the debris, determine whether a foundation is safe enough to re-use, have an architect redesign a house to fit the foundation, and put the project out for bid.  These are all draining, time-consuming, major projects on their own even if you WANTED to be going through the process of building a home.

For miles around the landscape is like a moonscape.  The trees are dead — charred black sticks and still standing.  The cost to remove them is prohibitive.

You must go out and replace a small portion of everything you’ve lost in the fire.  Depending on your type of policy and what’s being replaced, you may be covered for replacement value — or actual cost — or depreciated cost.  You find that some things were underinsured or are irreplaceable or you forgot to include them on your claim.

The inconvenience is enormous, overwhelming

Most of us would complain about the inconvenience of replacing a license and credit cards if a wallet were stolen, but think about what it might be like to lose everything you own and what it would take just to put in a claim.

You are one of 30 or more families trying to find an affordable place to live in the same general area where there aren’t 30 homes available to rent. In addition, you’re rebuilding a wardrobe from donated items, acquiring replacement vehicles and furniture, mourning your loss — all these things are emotional and time consuming tasks that need to be fit in around your normal work week responsibilities; your medical, dental and physical therapy appointments; and the typical demands of family.  Plans for vacations, golf or even playing bridge are now out of the question.  You’re grateful for someone who extends an invitation for a home-cooked meal.

If you weren’t one who lost a loved one in the fire, you at least knew your neighbors who did.  You’re mourning the losses of life, property and having a place to call home.  Your neighbors have scattered.  Many whose houses didn’t burn have had to evacuate for months because of smoke damage.

The flurry of concern and support that initially filled the days immediately following the disaster subsided within a few months.  You’re embarrassed to ask for funds from the fund established with donations at the Mountain Resource Center because you don’t want to take away money from others who might need it more.

Other disasters occur around the state and the nation, and other people go on with their lives.  But you’re still trying to deal with your losses.

Your emotions are stretched to the limit.  Your father dies.  Your spouse is diagnosed with early-onset of Alzheimer’s.  Every decision you and your spouse must make tests the strength of your marriage, which might have been on rocky ground before the fire occurred.  You’re still plagued with the pain of that needed hip replacement that had to be postponed because of everything else.

You’re outraged by people trying to gouge you by overcharging to do the dirty work that needs to get done – the people who think your insurance company will cover whatever….

Your children are needing psychological help because of all the adjustments they face in addition to coping with growing up, changing schools, living in a new neighborhood, having none of their familiar “things” and being surrounded by a family consumed with the post-fire stress.

Perhaps you’re the one who had to drop out of those college classes when the fire occurred because it was more than you could handle with two little kids and all, but now your Pell grant must be repaid because you failed to complete the courses.  You are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Your relatives are busy fighting with one another, consumed with their own lives and no longer offer any sympathy for your situation — after all, what can THEY do?  Life does go on.  There are days you just want to throw in the towel.

These are examples of stories I’ve heard from those who were affected.

Why should the State be held liable?

The Lower North Fork Fire was not a natural disaster that occurred like Super Storm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina.  It was caused by negligence of the State of Colorado, through which a prescribed burn got out of control.  Permitting a burn during the driest March on record with intense winds forecast was one issue.  Allowing the fire to be unmonitored for multiple days was another.  And then there are the 911 operators who kept assuring callers that it was a “controlled burn” and not to worry; at least one person who died had been chastised for calling 911 more than once.  When the Reverse 911 system was implemented, it was too late — and calls went to the wrong area.

Homeowners of many of the homes that were destroyed had complied with fire mitigation regulations and even gone beyond recommendations, using concrete and metal building materials rather than flammable ones and clearingall trees close to their homes.  The intense heat consumed everything in its path, causing fire-resistant homes to simply implode.

It’s like a slap in the face that the Governor publicly accepted responsibility in front of the TV cameras but essentially has done nothing to help.  While victims of other fires in the state last summer received both State and Federal assistance, those affected by the LNFF received neither.  Why?  The State’s acceptance of responsibility kept FEMA from helping before the State exhausted its resources; plus, FEMA stated that the State had waited too long to apply for assistance.  Whose fault is that?

To that, add that the governor allocated $1.3 million last fall for the State Forest Service to clear the charred trees, but nothing has been done to date.  Estimates to clear all the trees came in at about $16 million.

It’s an insult that the Commission for the LNFF held sessions but never truly investigated the fire because “they were not given a budget to conduct an investigation.”  It’s a double insult because the Attorney General’s office asked homeowners to submit paperwork reflecting their intent to file claims but then has done nothing to follow up on the process because they say “they don’t have staff” to handle the load.

Attorneys for the claimants submitted a plan to the Attorney General’s office some time ago, suggesting use of a Judicial Arbitration Group (JAG) comprised of four retired judges willing to volunteer their time.  The AG’s office initially refused to consider the concept but seemed to be acquiescing by last Friday’s hearing.  Judge Hall gave the attorneys until April 23rd to come up with a plan for using JAG volunteers to evaluate losses (vs. claims) precluding double recovery.  His words with regard to not wasting anymore time gave the survivors an ounce of encouragement in dealing with the heavy weight they’ve been forced to carry.

It’s my opinion that these people deserve some compensation for what they’ve been put through, and no one can convince me otherwise.

 


Photos above: (1) Jenny Lucas, whose grandparents perished in the fire after being told by 911 operators not to worry, that it was a controlled burn.  (2) Sharon Scanlan with Jack, Ruth and Jim Richard, all of whom lost homes in the fire. (3) Jeanie and Andy Hoover, who lost a home filled with artifacts of President Hoover.  Andy was in the house when it caught fire and watched from his truck in the driveway as his “fireproof” home built of concrete and metal imploded. (4) a typical view of charred trees still standing.  (5) Tom and Sharon Scanlan, who lost their home and have played key roles in keeping the survivors together in proceedings with the State of Colorado.



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Lower North Fork Fire – 1 Year Later

Lower North Fork Fire – 1 Year Later

Fox31 Denver – http://goo.gl/WJXkS

Interview with Representative Cheri Gerou, one year after the fire.

 

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Lower North Fork Fire victims demand restitution, apology in letter to lawmakers

Lower North Fork Fire victims demand restitution, apology in letter to lawmakers

Marshall Zelinger  – Denver 7 News| goo.gl/qbbFi

DENVER – Victims of the Lower North Fork Fire went to lawmakers on Tuesday with a long list of demands that include restitution and an apology.

The fire killed Ann Appel and Sam and Linda Lucas, destroyed 22 homes and burned 4,148 acres.

The blaze started as a prescribed burn set by the Colorado State Forest Service on March 22, 2012. It was not properly extinguished and escaped its boundaries on March 26.

One year later, the victim’s claims not covered by insurance are no closer to being paid.

Many of those victims went to state lawmakers Tuesday with the letter. It starts with, “On March 26,2012, the Lower North Fork Fire started by the Colorado State Forest Service killed three of our neighbors, devasted [sic] our land, burned our homes and degraded our lives forever.”

The letter from the Kuehster Road homeowners group and community asks for help.

“We want you to stand in our shoes and give this matter the attention it deserves,” the letter says. “Ask yourself what you want the state to do if it had been you, your home, your family?”

“We want to heal. We want want to stop grieving and being forced to relive this tragedy in court,” the letter says. “We want justice now so we can move on with our lives, instead of this perpetual degrading situation the AG has forced us into.”

“We are now nearly one year after the fire and not a dime has been paid to my clients, and we are still stuck on square one because of bureaucratic red tape posed to us by the Attorneys General,” said Tom Henderson, an attorney representing a number of the victims. “This is anything but real-time compensation. They didn’t have to do it that way. They could have allowed the claims board process to work through its natural course as it was designed to do by our legislature.”

The letter to lawmakers ends with, “We believe in your ability to end the pride and politics that continue to disrupt and delay our rightful judicial process, and help us become whole again.”

 

Homeowners letter to Legislators

 

 

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Homeowners Call Out Colorado AG John Suthers for Blocking Claims

Homeowners Call Out Colorado AG John Suthers for Blocking Claims

One year after Lower North Fork Fire, survivors are no closer to compensation from Colorado

Marshall Zelinger  – 7 News Denver-  goo.gl/o3H5o

As they approach the one-year mark since the Lower North Fork Fire, survivors seek answers from the Attorney General about their claims against the state.

One year ago on Tuesday, the Lower North Fork Fire took the lives of Ann Appel and Sam and Linda Lucas. It destroyed 22 homes and charred 4,100 acres.

The fire was a prescribed burn set by the Colorado State Forest Service on March 22, 2012. It was not properly extinguished and escaped its boundaries on March 26.

Nearly one year later, the claims not covered by insurance, are no closer to being paid to the survivors.

“Where should you be right now? One year later,” asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

“I would have hoped to have been in a home instead of in my third rental,” said survivor Tom Scanlan.

Lower North Fork Fire survivors received a surprise in Jefferson County District Court on Friday afternoon.

Attorneys representing the Attorney General’s Office presented a plan that would allow some victims to have their claims heard through a state claims board process, while other claims would still have to go through the judicial process in court.

In a joint news conference in May, Governor John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and both legislative houses announced a compromise that would allow Lower North Fork Fire victims a chance to avoid court and have their full claims heard by a state claims board on which Suthers sits.

“How soon would this take effect and how soon could these victims be getting money?” Zelinger asked at that May news conference.

“It takes effect, immediately, right? Upon my signature, it takes effect. They prepare or present their claims to the claims board; it’s happening in real time,” said Hickenlooper.

Suthers and then-Senate President Brandon Shaffer assisted the Governor in his answer.

Nearly one year to the date of the fire, the victims have not been allowed to go through the claims board process. They are stuck in court, despite being told they could avoid that process.

In February, 7NEWS asked the Attorney General’s Office why the victims are being forced to go through a court process.

We found out that once the insurance companies sued the state, seeking restitution for claims it had paid out, the victims’ claims were bundled into the court process. The victims must now wait for the judicial process to play out before the legislative claims board can hear any additional claims.

–Options presented to survivors by Attorney General’s representatives in court–

In court on Friday, the Attorney General’s Office presented three options for victims:

1. Claimants with documented economic loses can present their claims to the state claims board and then have those recommendations considered by the state legislature for final approval.

2. Claimants with non-economic loses can have their claims considered by a four-judge “judicial arbiter group” which would review the claims and consider compensation to be approved by a judge through the court process.

3. Claimants with non-economic loses and “exotic claims,” such as civil rights and inverse condemnation claims, will have to go to litigation and not be allowed to have their claims heard by the state claims board.

The attorneys in the court equaled the number of survivors watching the proceedings. There were attorneys representing the victims, various insurance companies and Intermountain Rural Electric Association.

“We are now nearly one year after the fire and not a dime has been paid to my clients, and we are still stuck on square one because of bureaucratic red tape posed to us by the Attorneys General,” said Tom Henderson, an attorney representing a number of the victims. “This is anything but real-time compensation. They didn’t have to do it that way. They could have allowed the claims board process to work through its natural course as it was designed to do by our legislature.”

The defendants include the state of Colorado, the Colorado State Forest Service and three individuals who were directly involved with the prescribed burn that led to the Lower North Fork Fire. Nearly a dozen attorneys represented the defendants.

“We’re now a year out (and) this legislative session recesses in early May. How in the world can my people get compensation in that amount of time, even if it’s not full compensation? They can, perhaps, get some compensation by the time legislature recesses,” said Henderson. “If that legislature recesses and my clients don’t have fair compensation, we’re now eight more months down the road until January of 2014, before the legislature is back in session.”

“We’re one year later, is this real time,” asked Zelinger.

“Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely not,” said State. Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.

Gardner sponsored the bill that allowed survivors to avoid court by presenting their claims to the state claims board.

“I have to tell you, it was never meant to be this complicated,” said Gardner.

–Survivors seek answers from Attorney General–

“The Attorney General has done nothing but to delay and impede the will of the legislation,” said Scanlan.

The survivors want answers from the Attorney General.

“I guess I’d ask the question, ‘why would the state not hold itself to the same time standard they would hold any private party to or any insurance company?'” said Appel. “It’s a joke and not a good one.”

“I would just love to sit down and have a conversation and say so much, and listen to what his logic is,” said Jenny Lucas, granddaughter of Sam and Linda Lucas.

“I’d like to tell the Attorney General how disgusted I am at the incredible display of chicanery that we saw in the courtroom (Friday),” said Scanlan.

“I’d like to ask him if he believes that these people deserve restitution from our state,” said Beth Semptimphelter. “I think he’s got to believe that to go forward and really pull for it.”

“How does it feel to be back here in the courtroom? Disgusting. It does. I can’t believe that this isn’t behind us yet,” said Lower North Fork Fire survivor Kim Olson. “I feel like we’re a challenge, we’re a problem and it’s something they’d like to get past. And for us, our lives are on hold. We’re just basically hanging here, waiting for them to do the right thing.”

Since late February, 7NEWS has made multiple requests to interview Suthers regarding the process that the Lower North Fork Fire victims are going through. On March 14, Suthers’ spokeswoman scheduled an interview time for March 21. Early that morning, the interview was abruptly canceled. 7NEWS was told it was because of security concerns. On Friday, the spokeswoman told 7NEWS it was because Suthers had a change in his schedule.

“This is not about us. This is about the state. The state that hasn’t done anything for us yet,” said survivor Jeanie Hoover.

The next court date is May 3.

Survivors of the Lower North Fork Fire plan to gather at the State Capitol on Tuesday, exactly one year after the fire.

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LNFF Homeowners to Rally at State Capitol on Anniversary of Fire

LNFF Homeowners to Rally at State Capitol on Anniversary of Fire

p (9)Dear friends and neighbors,

As you know, March 26th will be the one year mark of  the  Lower North Fork Fire.  have been asked by so many wonderful people how we as the survivors of this horrific event would like to have this day addressed.

We are so thankful for the community we live in and for the out pouring of support you have shared. From basic needs, fund raising events, to a special recognition dinner, children-run lemonade stands,  to writing news articles, showing up at court  to support us and for the many prayers you have sent our way. We will never be able to thank you enough.

As everyone knows, we  lost 3 amazing neighbors that day. It just doesn’t feel fitting to over shadow the grief this anniversary will hold for those families. Some have asked about a celebration, but we are not yet at a place where we feel a celebration is in order. There are still so many unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises from the State as we work at reclaiming our lives.This event was tragic and avoidable. Like any tragic event it takes time for survivors to heal and move on.

How we would like to approach this first anniversary is to ask all of you to hold us and our lost loved ones in your heart. Visit our website please, we will have posted a special “one year later update” and if you would like,  you will be able to post a message there to all of us. We would love to hear from you.

However, we have at a rather late hour, been given the opportunity for a press conference at the State Capitol on Tue. the 26th at noon.  We are meeting Cheri Gerou in the west foyer at 11:45 and would welcome any of you who could take the time to drive down there and be with us; our goal is to appeal to the Legislators, Governor and Attorney General for their support.

Thank you for your understanding. your kindness and your continued support.

Signed……
The survivors of the Lower North Fork Fire

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