More than two months after the devastating Black Forest Fire was finally extinguished — leaving two people dead, approximately 500 homes destroyed and yet-to-be tallied millions of dollars in property losses — Tri-State member system Mountain View Electric Association (Limon and Falcon, Colo.) is making steady progress in rebuilding more than 40 miles of line and other power supply infrastructure.
The blaze, which was reported on June 10, raged for 10 days before being declared fully contained on June 20.
In addition to the damage to Mountain View’s distribution system, Tri-State east-side maintenance crews were called to the scene to assist the co-op with restoration efforts as well as replace burned down structures on two of the G&T’s transmission lines serving the area. All of Tri-State’s system service in the area was restored by the evening of June 14.
As for Mountain View’s system, about 50 percent of the 41 miles of damaged line have been rebuilt, according to Claud Hugley, the co-op’s operations manager. However, Hugley also pointed out that, “It could be six months or more before the system impacted by the fire is completely reconstructed, depending on a number of factors — including the severity of this winter and how soon our consumers are able to secure the necessary permits for demolition and reconstruction of a new residence.”
Mountain View’s damage assessments are approximately $11 million from the fire, according to Darryl Edwards, member services manager. “Of that number, about $5 million will go toward repairs to our system and another $6 million will be needed for tree removal and restoration activities,” he explained.
“Of the 500 homes destroyed, so far we have received about 250 requests for restoration of their electric service,” Edwards said. ”In some instances, that service may just be for electricity to a trailer on the home site. Some of the impacted homeowners may not rebuild until next spring and some may not rebuild at all,” he said.
Hugley emphasized that the co-op’s main focus has been to restore service as quickly as possible to those who request it and continue to replace and repair the most vulnerable parts of the system before the winter snows hit the area.
While no final tally is available yet on the cost of the Black Forest Fire to this southern Colorado residential community, insurance claims through the end of July added up to more than $300 million. There is no doubt that figure will continue to grow as residents complete the process of assessing and reporting their losses.