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Sheriff Lashes Out Against Black Forest Chief’s ‘Shocking’ Report

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GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey, left, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, right (credit: CBS)

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey, left, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, right (credit: CBS)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The sheriff in El Paso County is responding with a flurry of strong comments after a new report came out about Colorado’s most devastating wildfire.

Black Forest Fire Department Chief Bob Harvey told some Colorado Springs media outlets that this summer’s Black Forest Fire that destroyed 486 homes was intentionally set.

Black Forest Fire (credit: CBS)

Black Forest Fire (credit: CBS)

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said he was shocked by the comments, and released a statement calling the chief’s remarks “inappropriate.”

Maketa said Harvey is not part of the investigation and is not qualified to make the claim.

His complete comments are as follows:

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.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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