JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado State Forest released the plan it filed in advance of its ill-fated prescribed burn the resulted in the Lower North Fork Fire.
4 On Your Side Investigator Rick Sallinger obtained the permit under the Colorado Opens Records Act. He examined 80 pages of material. Included in the filing were questions not completed that would have allowed the planned burn on Denver Water property to be called off in extremely dry conditions.
The documents also show extensive preparations including what’s called a “No Go” checklist. The first question, “Has the burn area experience unusual drought conditions?” The page was left blank.
“We’ve had not burn availability in our neighborhood for the last three weeks, so why the Forest Service would do it is beyond me,” said resident Jennifer Behm.
The plans called for area residents to be notified by mail and phone about the prescribed burn. Signs were also supposed to be posted.
Resident Coe Meyer who lost his home in the fire. He said he was not informed in advance there would be a planned burn.
“I absolutely did not. I called it in at 9 a.m. and found out that several calls had been made,” said Meyer.
The fire was apparently sparked by the state-prescribed burn that was stirred up by strong winds on Monday. Since then, 27 homes have been damaged or destroyed, an elderly couple was found dead at one of the homes and a woman whose house was destroyed remains missing.
The plan noted two possible negative scenarios; one that does not result in a threat to life or property, the other and less likely would result in a significant threat to structures.
“When you look at the complexity of that document you can see the extensive analysis that’s taken place,” said Colorado State Forest Service spokesman Joe Duda.
The plan contained photos of the prescribed burn area and the fuels to be cleared. One thing missing from the documents received by CBS4 were the names of those in charge of the prescribed burn gone wrong.
The reason the names are blacked out are that emotions are running high and Forest Service officials don’t want anger directed at those in charge of the planned burn.