CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4)– Residents of Conifer, some who lost their homes in the Lower North Fork Fire, are disappointed after hearing the findings of an investigation into the wildfire.
The report on last month’s fire that killed three people, damaged or destroyed 27 homes, scorched more than six square miles and caused more than 11 million dollars in property damage shows that there was nothing criminal about the controlled burn that flared up again.
Those who attended the meeting were told they could ask questions after the presentation concluded at 8 p.m. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, they were told the meeting was over and if they had questions to seek out a representative with Jefferson County.
The meeting included a representative from the governor’s office. He recapped the review of the controlled burn that later led to the fire and said that they are comfortable with all efforts to make sure that a similar situation doesn’t happen again.
Conifer residents packed the auditorium of West Jefferson Middle School. Many were hoping to ask some really tough questions but said they were left without a real public forum to voice their concerns.
“There has to be accountability. That’s the one thing that was kind of missing in that whole deal,” said Coe Meyer who lost his home in the fire.
“I’m not looking for placated answers, I’m looking for real answers and I want people to take responsibility,” said Conifer resident Kim Olson.
Jefferson County also detailed a new three-level evacuation plan for residents at the meeting. They also warned homeowners that they should not rely on reverse 911 alone, but take responsibility and act on what they observe happening.
“We have to be cognisent of where we live and the dangers and react accordingly based on your gut instinct or what you know at the time,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink.
“I don’t want to be told that we should just be prepared for things like this because this is not something that we could have ever prepared for,” said Olson.
Mink also reviewed the problems with the reverse 911 system. He said that a test was recently conducted with favorable results.
“The thing that everyone seems to be avoiding here is those of us who paid the price for all of this,” said Meyer.