Victims of the Lower North Fork Wildfire seek restitution from the state

State offers some settlements two years after fire

DENVER - Lower North Fork wildfire victims are seeking restitution nearly two years later.  The wildfire started as a Colorado State Forest Service prescribed burn.  The burn site was not patrolled, and escaped, destroying more than 4 thousand acres, 22 homes, and claiming three lives.

"There are plenty of families that we went through this with," said Kristen Moeller.

Moeller and Dave Cottrell lost their home in the Lower North Fork Wildfire.  

"It has been a long road," said Cottrell.

"The truth is, I went to bed last night thinking, the one thing they can't give me back is my house, and that's really still all I want back, is my house," said Moeller.

A new law extended the state's liability limit, allowing Moeller and Cottrell to claim their losses and seek restitution.

"We had things done that would allow us to be able to do this," said Cottrell.

"This is the looming, ever looming, unresolved thing, our dealings with the state. We just want to be done," explained Moeller.

The State Claims Board heard claims from five different Lower North Fork Fire cases, including Moeller and Cottrell.  

Moeller said the state offered a settlement that was below what they asked for, "Doesn't cover all of our losses, but it's enough for us to move on." 

They accepted the settlement, but Moeller, Cottrell and other Lower North Fork fire claimants will have to wait for legislative approval and funding before they can receive payment.

There are still unresolved claims from  other victims of the Lower North Fork wildfire that have not been settled.

 "I think it's important that people know we're not done yet," said Moeller.

Moeller said she will continue to focus on "Phoenix Rising," a book compiling, "stories from women who have walked through fires."

"The women who are writing will have the catharsis of writing, but then the people who are not writing, hopefully we'll get those books to them so they'll hear about it. They'll know they're not alone," explained Moeller.