Families “cautiously optimistic” about Lower North Fork Fire bill

Hendrik Sybrandy | KWGN.com

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The children of two homeowners killed during the Lower North Fork Fire said they are “cautiously optimistic” a bill making it easier to compensate fire victims will pass the State Legislature.

The late March fire destroyed several dozen Jefferson County homes and caused millions of dollars in damage. Sam Lucas, 77, and Linda “Moaneti” Lucas, 76, were among three people who perished when flames engulfed their games.

“I think I just need some time to really understand the details and see how it’s all going to work out,” said Sam Lucas, Jr. as he walked the charred Eagle Vista Road property on Friday. “No amount of money’s going to bring my parents back.”

On Thursday, Governor John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and legislative leaders reached a compromise which would prevent the state from claiming immunity from damages related to prescribed burns. A state-conducted controlled burn triggered the blaze, sparking outrage from residents in the mountainous area between Littleton and Conifer.

“I think it gives the families of this region hope that their side of the whole event can be heard and understood,” said Linda White, the Lucases’ daughter. “We’re just waiting to see what results from it… Who knows until the final stamp is put on it?” White, her brother and members of other families affected by the fire were briefed on the compensation bill by the governor on Friday afternoon. She said the state appears to understand the damage done to people in the community.

“I would hope so,” White said. “That would be a very definite positive outcome, that nothing like this would happen again.”

“I think the state gets it, I think they’re getting it,” Lucas added. “I think it’s a process.” He said his goal now is to retrieve mementos of his parents from the ashes of their dream home, help ensure that the burn area is reforested and work towards preventing a repeat of the fire.

“I think what I really would like out of this is to make sure that this doesn’t happen in the future,” he said.

(Video originally aired on FOX31 Denver)