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A Milestone 6 Months Later: First Home Rebuilt After High Park Fire Now Occupied

Larimer County

This week Larimer County issued its first Certificate of Occupancy for a home within the High Park Fire burn zone. It marks a significant milestone in rebuilding 6 months after the blaze.

Donna and Ira Baker were the first to receive a permit to rebuild after the fire. The home, complete with Christmas lights and a fresh coat of snow, is located in Rist Canyon.

Things have been slowly moving toward normal six months on from the High Park Fire, especially in Rist Canyon. The Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, one of the first on the scene of the blaze, saw one of their stations destroyed. The High Park Fire also left eight firefighters without homes

Suzanne Bassinger, Larimer County’s recovery manager, says 29 permits for replacement homes have been issued by the county so far.  That’s about 15 percent of the 259 homes lost. “We’re doing really, really well in rebuilds in the area and it gives us a lot of hope and optimism that things are really starting to roll toward recovery,” says Bassinger.

Housing isn’t alone in the rebuilding six months on. “Re-seeding efforts have been astounding,” Bassinger says. “We’re putting in culverts to mitigate potential flooding during the spring run-off, the watershed is being protected, and a whole lot more has and is being done.”

The lack of trees and charred ground inside the burn zone has created the perfect setup for mudslides, especially in Rist and Poudre Canyons. CDOT estimates in Rist Canyon alone nearly $1.7 million dollars will be spent in the short term on culvert repair.

While the Bakers are the first to move back into their home following the High Park Fire, many others are still navigating insurance claims. The county is providing trailers and other living accommodations for those who have yet to rebuild from this summer’s wildfires.

Recovery is ongoing within the boundaries of the 87,284 acres burned. Bassinger adds there is another ‘Road Map to Recovery’ workshop with United Policyholders on January 15, and the ‘Long-Term Recovery Group’ is ready to assist those that continue to need help.

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