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Fire Codes Getting Tougher After Damaging Colorado Fire

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Diana Webb took this photo on June 26 when the Waldo Canyon Fire exploded.

Diana Webb took this photo on June 26 when the Waldo Canyon Fire exploded.

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Fire codes could be getting stricter in the Colorado Springs neighborhood devastated by last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire, prompting complaints that it could make rebuilding more expensive.

Colorado Springs’ City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to fire code changes to make homes more fire resistant in the foothills, The Gazette reported.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department said the changes would make homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood more fire resistant if they’re rebuilt.

The fire department proposed the changes after the Waldo Canyon blaze killed two people and damaged or destroyed 359 houses. The June fire was the most destructive in state history.

Fire Marshal Brett Lacey has said that hundreds of homes might still be standing had the tougher fire codes been in place.

The fire code changes would apply only to rebuilds and new construction on vacant lots, not to existing structures. The changed code would cover Colorado Springs’ entire hillside overlay zone, which includes about 40,000 lots.

“We’re allowing people to maintain their same architectural features, just build it with smart products that are not going to be as flammable as what they had prior to the fire,” Deputy Fire Marshal Kris Cooper said after the vote.

The changes have drawn opposition from some residents as well as city officials, including councilwoman Angela Dougan, who cast the lone dissenting vote Tuesday.

“I appreciate the work here, but this is such a government overreach,” said Dougan, who worries that residents affected by the fire will incur additional costs to rebuild.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown said the fire code changes will result in no more than $6,200 in additional costs for homeowners.

“We know there’s no fail-safe system out there,” Brown said. “In fact, there are other communities that have adopted a lot more stringent codes as a result of fires throughout their communities. What we’re trying to do is to do the best job we can with increasing the ignition resistance.”

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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