This morning, we spoke to El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman, who explained how the Black Forest Fire differs from the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Lowderman and his staff must inspect homes touched by the fire and assess their level of damage. Last year, they came up with a new system of breaking down the damage level by quarters: 25 percent, 50, 75 and a total loss. With the Waldo Canyon Fire, a staff of 30 did the inspecting, and while 347 homes were destroyed, only 40 fell into the 25 to 75 range, making them just "damaged."
"The Waldo Canyon Fire was pretty easy," Lowderman says, "because most of the homes were destroyed."
They'll use the same system for Black Forest. However, the application will be more complex. "It's going to be quite a challenge," he says.
For one, the terrain is far more spread out, making it harder to cover quickly. And the office will have to factor in more variables when assessing the homes: Most Black Forest homes have outbuildings like sheds and barns, and Lowderman says that home values are also affected by tree cover. Measuring the value of land is a harder variable to group cleanly into categories.
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