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Black Forest prepares for big burned-tree removal job

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Jun 25 2013 09:03:43 PM CDT

A professional tree cutter offers tips to property owners affected by the recent wildfire.

BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

Recent wildfires have mostly burned trees on forest land, but the Black Forest Fire burned thousands of trees on private property.

It means that returning homeowners must decide how they'll remove trees, and how many.  Homeowners are waiting to learn what their insurance policies will cover.  There's also the possibility of assistance from the state and federal government.

On Tuesday, Darrell Fortner was using a chainsaw to cut down his own trees.  Fortner lost his home in the fire and has owned a tree cutting and trimming business for 41 years.

Burned trees provide some shade for animals and plants, and also can disperse heavy raindrops and reduce erosion.  But they also can fall without warning and cause damage or injury to people.

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey said burned trees also present a greater fire risk.

"The fire actually dries out and cures the needles and leaves, making it more susceptible and highly combustible," he said.

Fortner's advice to affected homeowners is to take their time making decisions.

"Don't be in a hurry to pay anyone, even me, to jump in and start cutting trees," he said.  "Save your money, save your insurance claims.  Some guys will come in here and take advantage of every job they can, every person they can.  They don't care."

Fortner advised that only trees that are completely burned, be cut down and removed.

"Trees that still have leaves or needles, they can be saved," he said.

Fortner said burned trees are of little use, except for chipping them into mulch.

"That mulch is good for the soil and prevents erosion," he said.

Darryl Glenn, the El Paso County commissioner representing Black Forest, said a meeting will be held Friday to discuss tree and debris removal for residents.  The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the commission chambers at Centennial Hall in downtown Colorado Springs.

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