GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Luxury homes are under
construction in remote, fire-prone mountains of western Colorado,
worrying a fire chief who wonders if he would have enough time and
equipment to save them.
Some of the construction is on land burned over by last summer's
Panorama fire, a blaze authorities blamed on sparks from a saw used
by a crew building a house. The 1,700-acre fire between Carbondale
and Basalt destroyed two homes.
"This growth is hurting the fire departments," Carbondale Fire
Chief Ron Leach told the Garfield County commissioners last week.
Leach told commissioners the developers of one mountain
subdivision were required to make roads and driveways wide enough
to accommodate fire trucks and ensure adequate water for
firefighters through hydrants or storage tanks.
Homeowners in the subdivision will be required to thin or remove
vegetation from a safety zone around their houses and to install
sprinkler systems inside.
"I don't know what else to have them do," Leach said. "We
held them to a pretty high bar."
The development is nine miles up a steep, narrow road from
Carbondale, where crews would start in the event of a fire. It will
eventually include 26 houses, all of them at least 8,000 square
feet and two of them 12,000 square feet.
County Commissioner Larry McGowan questioned how long the safety
zones around the houses would remain clear of flammable growth.
Leach and Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said their departments
don't have the staff to do follow-up inspections, so enforcement is
left to homeowners associations.
Basalt fire officials have said more than 500 homes in their
district are in "red zones" at high risk of wildfire.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)