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Lawmakers Push Wildfire Victim Compensation Bill Forward

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Lower North Fork Fire (credit: CBS)

Lower North Fork Fire (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

DENVER (CBS4) – A deadly wildfire caused by the state last year has prompted a bill that would provide more compensation in cases of government negligence.

The Lower North Fork Fire damaged or destroyed 27 homes and killed three people in March 2012 when a prescribed burn by the state got out of control.

Under the governmental immunity act, homeowners were limited to $150,000 per person and up to $600,000 total.

A new bill making its way through the state Legislature raises the caps to nearly $480,000 per person and just under $1 million total.

State Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat who represents Boulder, is among the lawmakers who say they were moved by the testimony of fire victims last year.

“For me there was just a light bulb that went off and said the most effective thing to do to help them immediately is raise the government immunity cap, because we can’t bring lives and houses back or restore the landscape but we can at least compensate them,” Levy said.

The bill has both Democratic and Republican sponsors.

It has already passed in the Colorado Senate and was being heard in a house committee on Thursday.

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