Nov 21, 2013 6:29 AM by Bethany Rhodes

Local leaders differ over Black Forest Fire

El Paso County Sheriff, Terry Maketa, is going against recent reports in some local news media on the Black Forest Fire investigation.

Black Forest Fire Chief, Bob Harvey was quoted as saying, that the cause of the fire had been determined to be "intentional."

News 5 did not report this.

The one thing authorities can agree on is that they believe the fire was human caused, but there is confusion after that.

Harvey declined to even talk to us until later this morning, but Maketa sounded off on Harvey by saying:

"Do not buy into Chief Harvey's claims until it's confirmed by the actual agency that has been the lead of the investigation and will base its findings on indisputable scientific evidence that can withstand the scrutiny of the criminal justice system. Right now that isn't the case. His comments are nothing more than an attempt to mislead the public and a mere witch hunt. Numerous national experts and federal resources have been involved in this investigation and have not and cannot substantiate Chief Harvey's unqualified knee jerk claims. "Human caused" has been known for a long time but this Chief is not involved in the investigation nor qualified to offer legal and scientific evidence. He does not know the point of origin and has been less than truthful about other circumstances with this disaster and just may be merely covering his own mishandling of this event in an attempt to avoid responsibility for allowing the fire to get out of hand. Furthermore, this Chief didn't even know homes were burning at a time several were engulfed and never even requested evacuations of nearby households as the fire rapidly grew out of control, clearly placing citizen's safety in jeopardy. It's an injustice that he has chosen to jump to these unjustified and inconclusive assumptions without any effort to coordinate with local investigative authorities that have expended extensive resources to identify the cause and manner of this serious tragedy. Chief Harvey's comments are reckless, irresponsible and lack what is in the best interests of the community following this tragedy."

In nine days, the fire killed two people, destroyed more than 500 homes and consumed more than 14,000 acres.




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