I really think that proper defensible space during the High Park fire was a crapshoot (HCN, 8/6/12, 'Lessons burned?'). The fire moved so fast, with the intense wind gusts, through such dry and dead vegetation, that even if you had 30 feet of defensible space, your house could have easily caught fire. I live in Glacier View Meadows on the northern side of the Poudre River. Some 50 homes were destroyed in my subdivision by the fire. Firefighters had three weeks to prepare. They built fire lines, dozer lines and cleared trees around homes. Unfortunately, it did not help. Mother Nature had a heyday. We had been told at a community meeting that if the fire jumped the river and headed toward the subdivision it would reach the top of the ridge in 30 to 60 minutes. It did just that.
The Whale Rock subdivision has long been known for its poor access roads. If the roads cannot handle two cars side-by-side, how are emergency vehicles going to gain effective access?
Larimer County does have rules that require fire-resistant roofing, and defensible space. (It's a building permit requirement.) But if a house was built prior to those rules, they don't apply. In addition, the subdivision itself may have been developed prior to any county oversight, which should have required proper access.