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2020 Cal-Wood and Lefthand Canyon Fires

Next Steps After Cal-Wood & Lefthand Canyon Fires

We know this is a very difficult time for all those impacted by the Cal-Wood and Lefthand Canyon fires in Boulder County. We want you to know we are here to help.

Please reach out to 303-441-1206 if you were evacuated and need help, and see the English/Spanish flyer for returning evacuees for additional information.

Boulder County remains committed to supporting you. General information about what to consider after a major wildfire is outlined in this Fire Recovery Guide. Please tell us other information you need by emailing firerecovery@bouldercounty.org.

Process After a Wildfire

Cleanup

Requirements

Property owners are responsible for the cleanup of their property, and in many cases there may be insurance coverage for this cleanup. Please check with your insurance provider for your policy details about cleanup. Cleanup includes the removal of all hazardous vegetative debris, yard and household debris, and remaining structural elements including foundations that cannot be reused due to damage. A foundation must be evaluated by a Colorado Licensed Structural Engineer if you wish to try and re-use it.

Boulder County has curated a list of possible local contractors (this list is not a complete list of available contractors).

Foundation Evaluation & Removal

Wildfire usually destroys the structural integrity of structure foundations. Evaluation of the foundation should occur concurrently with property clean up so it can be removed with other debris if it is not usable. Foundations should be evaluated by a Colorado state licensed engineer, typically a structural engineer, when determining if they can be reused. If the foundation is not reusable it should be removed as part of the property clean up. If the foundation is determined to be intact and structurally sound it may be integrated into the building permit plan set for the new dwelling.

A deconstruction permit from Community Planning & Permitting is required for the removal of structural elements on your property. At times, clean up may also require the installation of temporary electrical service, a permit is required for the installation of temporary electrical service.

CP&P is working on one joint permit that will cover all of the individual foundation removals for Mountain Ridge property owners.

Permit applications for deconstruction and for temporary electrical service will be made through Boulder County’s online portal. You will need to register for an account if you don’t already have one.

Once a permit is issued and the work is completed an inspection will be required. Please schedule an inspection by emailing the building inspectors directly at BuildingInspectors@bouldercounty.org.

The health and safety of people is a significant concern when cleaning up structures destroyed by fire due to the nature of the materials that have burned. The State of Colorado is requiring the submittal of a form related to the property clean up and has published a set of guidelines to be followed when undertaking property cleanup:

Other Considerations

OWTS a.k.a. Septic

If your tank and/or soil treatment area (leach field) was not damaged it could be reused if the property is redeveloped. Sewer lines should be capped until ready to be reconnected. Consider having the tank pumped as part of your property clean up.

If the property will not be redeveloped, the septic tank should be properly abandoned. Have the tank pumped and then filled with sand or gravel, remove, or crush and leave in place.

When returning to your property, inspect the area where your septic system is located for signs of damage from fire and traffic from fire-fighting operations. If you feel your septic system may have been damaged, discontinue use until a licensed professional has inspected the system. The system may have been impacted if:

  • Plastic piping above ground has melted.
  • Evidence of vehicle traffic in the area of the system.
  • The raised system was in the direct line of fire (i.e. grass on top is scorched).
  • There is damage in the area where the pipes enter the home.

What to do When Your Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Experiences a Power Outage

Waterlines

If you are serviced by a well inspect your wellhead for damage. If there is damage cover the wellhead and contact a well service provider.

If you are serviced by Left Hand Water District they have already removed meters from any properties that were a total loss in these wildfires. You do not need to contact them about disconnecting service.

If you want to restore your service at some point in the future, please contact Left Hand Water directly at 303-530-4200.

If water is supplied by another service provider please contact them directly.

Weighing Options

Insurance Coverage

If your property is damaged or destroyed, the guidance provided below will help you get started on the road to recovery, make good decisions, and keep moving forward:

Each insurance provider and policy is different, so be sure to reach out to your specific provider for more information about your coverage options for cleanup and the options for the future of your property.

Natural Disaster Property Valuation Process

Please see this brochure from the State of Colorado.

By the middle of November the Boulder County Assessor’s Office will finish prorating the values for any destroyed homes from Cal-Wood or Lefthand Canyon fires. The value will be prorated using Oct. 17, 2020 as the date the homes were destroyed. The properties will only have taxes calculated on the value remaining on the property. This is for taxes payable in 2021.

On Dec. 15 the Assessor will report the reduction in value to the Boulder County Treasurer where he will verify the property tax that is eligible for reimbursement from the State Treasurer. The State Treasurer will reimburse the county for the remainder of the taxes due for the properties. For properties that are completely destroyed the property owners will not owe taxes next year.

Properties that have been damaged (but not destroyed) do not qualify for proration or tax relief. The Assessor’s Office will review properties in January to make sure they have been described accurately.

As long as the Assessor’s Office finds evidence of the intention to rebuild a home, the land will be taxed at the residential rate for two more years. Intention to build is generally shown in building permits being pulled to rebuild the home. In 2023, if no home is built, the land will be reclassified and taxed as vacant land.

The properties that have Senior or Veterans Exemptions keep the exemption for the 2021 tax bill. If the property owner shows intention to rebuild the exemption will stay on the property and it will stay on the property unless in 2023 we reclassified the property as vacant land. If rather than rebuild, they chose to buy a new home (in any county in Colorado), they can apply for the Senior Exemption for their new home in 2021 using the Long Form. They will not need to meet the required years of ownership criteria on the new home. The Senior Exemption Long Form can be requested from the Assessor’s Office in January.

Health & Safety in Cleanup

  • Mental Health After a Wildfire
    Steps to ensure that you are taking care of your emotional needs during this time of crisis.
  • Fire Suppressant Safety
    Learn how to safely clean up fire suppressant.
  • Food Safety After a Fire
    Food exposed to fire can be compromised by the heat of the fire, the fumes from the smoke, chemicals used to fight the fire, and power outages from the fire.
  • Safe Cleanup after a Fire
    Household cleaners, fertilizers, and pesticides contain dangerous chemicals that may have spilled in or near your home during the fire response.
  • Potential Hazards in a Wildfire Area
    Working in an area that has been affected by a wildfire poses some physical risks. Learn how to stay safe.
  • Tetanus Risk & First Aid after a Fire
    A tetanus vaccination is recommended for all residents returning to the burn area who have not had a documented dose within the past ten years.