Jan 15, 2014 11:42 PM by Andy Koen

New leads announced in Black Forest Fire investigation

EL PASO COUNTY - The chairman of the Black Forest Fire Protection District Board announced Wednesday night that their investigators had uncovered new leads related to the source and origin of the state's worst wildfire.

The announcement came as a bit a surprise considering that the investigators were initially hired to review whether Fire Chief Bob Harvey's acted appropriately when the fire began.

"It is the district's responsibility to investigate the potential source and origin of fires within the district boundaries," said board chairman Edward Braken reading from a prepared statement.

More specific information is not likely to come out until those investigators make their report public. Braken expects that to happen at the next fire board meeting on February 19.

The investigators, retired Greenwood Village Police Commander Dave Fisher and South Metro Fire Rescue officer Dave Daley, were initially brought in to double check the work of Harvey following a public war of words with El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

Harvey publicly stated that he believed the fire was intentionally started. Maketa blasted Harvey for his statement on Facebook and in the news media as being potentially damaging to his criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, members of the public questioned why their petitions to remove Harvey weren't shared with other board members. Their concern was shared by board vice chairman Rick McMorran.

"I think that's wrong," McMorran said. "If the citizens want to petition the board, then all of the board members should have a right to see that petition."

Some volunteer firefighters stood up for their embattle chief by giving the board a signed letter of support. The letter accompanies a previously submitted letter of support penned by the paid firefighters of the Black Forest Fire Protection District.

Still, victims who lost homes in the fire tell News 5 they wish their board would be more sympathetic to their concerns.

"I don't they have a real clear perspective of what all of us have been through and why we are interested in the investigation and why we are wanting answers to the things that have happened," said fire victim Teresa McGilton.

McGilton and the other fire victims will be able to make their wishes known about the current board later this spring at ballot box. Three members of the fire board, including Chairman Bracken, are up for reelection in May.


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