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Environment & Science

Fire damage, and preparedness, in Colorado and California

Brick foundation of a house in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Brick foundation of a house in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

I'm in Colorado this week, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. But I came in early over the weekend and got to see some parts of Colorado Springs where the fire had taken some homes--some, but not all. And maybe that was one reason why I was so self-conscious while taking photos.

My cousin, who lives in Colorado Springs, took me to an overlook for the Garden of the Gods. We talked to some local motorcycle dudes up there. They advised next time I was in those burned neighborhoods, to look at the homes that had not burned. "Brush clearance," the guy in the Broncos shirt said, definitively.

I don't need to go back though. Los Angeles County, Orange and Ventura counties have been working over the past several years to hone a message about brush clearance and otherwiswe protecting your home against heat and fire in an effort to encourage preparedness. The program's called "Ready! Set! Go!" but there's also a separate section on brush clearance, too. (With a video!)

I was halfway through formulating a theory under which it's harder to ignore the mountains, and therefore nature, in Colorado--and that therefore maybe people were better about brush clearance here. And then mid-way through my morning here, I ran this by a scientist. She snorted and said: "We're not as good as you think."