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Residents outraged by HOA’s bizarre move after a devastating disaster: ‘They should understand more than anyone’

Residents are calling for metal firewise fencing to be installed instead.

Rock Creek Ranch subdivision

Photo Credit: iStock

A huge residential fire in Denver killed two people in December 2021 and saw more than 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed.

Known as the Marshall Fire, it was caused and made worse by high winds in Boulder County. On December 24, a residential fire was lit to burn scrap wood and tree cuttings. Wind gusts approaching 100 miles per hour uncovered the buried embers on December 30, pushing them into dry brush, The Colorado Sun reported.

From there, a fire began that spread rapidly, partially due to the high winds and because of cedar fencing, according to the Denver Gazette. 

Stunning footage from a doorbell camera in the area, provided by the Gazette, demonstrated just how quickly things escalated.

Boulder County Sheriff Curtis Johnson said the damage resulted in up to $2 billion in losses, per the Sun

The community is still rebuilding following the disaster, but one issue remains a sticking point. Despite the pleas of many residents who lost so much in the disaster, an area homeowners association is standing its ground on a wooden-fence mandate that was put in place around 25 years ago, according to the Gazette.

Considering the role the fences played in spreading the fire to properties surrounded by the fencing in Superior’s Rock Creek Ranch subdivision, many are calling for metal firewise fencing to be installed instead. 

“Fences acted like fuses. They moved the fire along fence lines and brought the fire to the houses,” said Jeff Webb, a Mountain View fire marshal, per the Gazette

But it seems aesthetics are proving more important than safety, with the HOA delaying a decision on the issue as it considers the impact a firewise fence will have on property values.

That thinking is completely baffling to at least one member of the community.

“You would think that the easiest hurdle to get over would be folks on the HOA board and their decisions,” Jen Kaaoush, co-director of Marshall Fire victim group Superior Rising, told the Gazette. “They’re the community. They should understand more than anyone.”

It’s an understandable stance, especially from residents who experienced the destruction firsthand. But with wildfires a problem in the state, that desire to have safer fencing in the community is even more apparent.

From June through August 2023, the Sun has tracked 11 different wildfire events. Lightning is listed as the cause of at least six of those.

Research published in the journal Nature Communications and summarized by Phys.org detailed that a warming planet will lead to more “hot lightning” strikes globally, with computer simulations of previous lightning strikes showing “higher frequency as the atmosphere warms.” It’s also observed that North America is the region that could see the most dramatic increase.

So, any measure that will keep people safe and limit the impact future fire events will have on homes seems to be a wise move. Hopefully, the sensible requests of residents in the Rock Creek Ranch subdivision will be heeded. 

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