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Black Forest Fire Department Found It Responded Properly To Wildfire

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BLACK FOREST, Colo. (CBS4) – A report commissioned by the Black Forest Fire Department found it responded properly to a wildfire that burned more than 480 homes and was responsible for two deaths.

The Black Forest Fire Department commissioned the investigation to determine if its response was adequate. The investigation determined there was little, if anything, the firefighters could have done to stop the blaze.

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)

The investigator hired by the department said transferring the response to the state sooner wouldn’t have helped.

“At 2:18 p.m. this fire was in the crown and was off, so nothing was going to stop it, no matter who was in charge,” investigator Dave Fisher said.

The report noted that Fire Chief Bob Harvey was accused of turning away resources, but said he did not, and air support was in short supply. Due to fires elsewhere, helicopters did not arrive until well after the fire started. Residents who lost their homes expressed disagreement about the response.

“He saw the smoke, he should have investigated then, not just make a phone call and go on about his business,” said Darrell Fortner, whose home was destroyed by the fire.

It’s still not clear how the fire started.

“I think what both the sheriff’s office and myself have said (is that) it’s human caused and that’s the last comment I’ll make about that,” Harvey said.

A war of words developed between Harvey and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa after they indicated they had information the fire was probably human caused and may have been intentionally set.

Some of the homes are already being rebuilt.

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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