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State Lawmakers Reject Lower North Fork Fire Proposal

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(credit: J. Byrne)

(credit: J. Byrne)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

DENVER (CBS4) – A proposal to double the amount of money the state can pay out to fire victims failed to pass in the Colorado Legislature on Tuesday.

The most fire victims could receive from a lawsuit against the state is $600,000. That would have to be divided evenly amongst the victims involved in that suit.

The new proposal was to double that to $1.2 million per incident, to be split amongst victims.

The proposal was drafted by the Lower North Fork Fire Commission and was set up to investigate the state’s controlled burn which flared up when it was supposed to be out in March, destroying nearly 30 homes and killing three people.

What failed on Wednesday was essentially the draft of a bill that some members of the commission were hoping to introduce to the Legislature in January.

The commission has drafted several bills that it plans to introduce at that time. Even though this proposal, drafted by Rep. Claire Levy, failed to make it out of the commission, she can still introduce it on her own.

Other proposals that will be presented to lawmakers next year include extending the income tax credit for land owners who have done fire mitigation work, a new set of policies, procedures and notifications for any prescribed burn.

There’s also a proposal that would require counties to do fire mitigation work, and a plan to make it easier for firefighters to get backup, resources and compensation for their expenses.

“I think the state of Colorado as a whole both really feels for the tragedy of the Lower North Fork Fire and what the people who lost their homes and the individuals who lost their lives and the family members who are still grieving for those losses, so this is really difficult and this has not been an easy task,” State Sen. Ellen Roberts said. “I think our commission has acted to the best of our ability to learn the most that we can about that particular fire, but again the broader picture of the state of Colorado.”

Some homeowners are still asking for a harder look at the cause of the fire. They feel that no one was held accountable, and that no one has taken responsibility for the fire.

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