First fire, then floods in besieged Western forest

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Associated Press

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 4:03 AM

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Wildfire burn scars have spawned flash floods up and down Colorado's Front Range and in other Western states this summer, saddling communities with millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

The threat lingers years after the flames have been extinguished and the human and property losses of fire have been tallied.

Drenching rain in the wildfire-blackened hills below Colorado's Pikes Peak sent a torrent of rock and mud into the tourist town of Manitou Springs this month, killing a 53-year-old man and smashing into dozens of houses.

No single agency compiles the cost of erosion and floods caused by wildfires, but the U.S. Forest Service spent nearly $46 million in fiscal 2012 on emergency erosion measures.

The money paid for mulch to absorb rain, shoring up roads and trails, and reseeding.

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