ABSTRACT

FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Cedar Heights Saved During Waldo Canyon Fire   [open pdf - 445KB]

"In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire burned more than 18,000 acres and destroyed 347 homes. Currently, it is the most costly fire in Colorado history, with estimated insured losses of $454 million. While the effects were devastating to the Colorado Springs community as a whole, the losses avoided in some areas are a testament that wildfire mitigation works. Thanks in part to mitigation efforts in an adjacent park, the Cedar Heights neighborhood (valued at more than $75M) was saved, allowing 250 families to return to their homes and their lives after the fire. […] Colorado Springs has long recognized the risk of wildfires to its residents. 'In the 1990s, we got a new Fire Chief, Manual Navarro,' says Christina Randall, Colorado Springs Wildfire Mitigation Program Administrator. 'Chief Navarro was a veteran of deadly wildfires in Oakland, California and immediately recognized our risk here. He told us that residents should never be able to tell us that they didn't know about their wildfire risk. This charge became the cornerstone of our education and outreach program.' More than 28,800 acres are in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), which includes twenty-four percent of the city's population. In 2000, the Colorado Springs Fire Department hired a wildfire risk manager and began conducting risk assessments on more than 36,000 properties in the WUI. The city developed a wildfire hazard rating system that identifies low, moderate, high, very high, or extreme ratings for each resident at the lot level."

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