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Controversy Surrounds Report On Black Forest Fire

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BLACK FOREST, Colo. (CBS4)- A new report on the Black Forest wildfire calls the local fire chief a hero for his actions when the massive blaze broke out but the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said the report is loaded with inaccuracies.

Inside the Black Forest Fire District board meeting tensions ran high on Wednesday evening.

Residents reacted to the results of an internal investigation of the fire district following the most destructive wildfire in Colorado.

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)

An independent investigator concluded after seven weeks of interviews, that Fire Chief Bob Harvey’s response to the Black Forest Fire was professional and appropriate, given the circumstances.

“I’ve talked with two fire experts and many fire chiefs, all of whom said the same thing: no one could have stopped this fire,” said investigator Dave Fisher.

Some residents are at odds with that statement and the chief’s actions.

“He should’ve called me up immediately, he saw the smoke, he should have investigated then not just make a phone call and go about his business,” said Black Forest fire victim Darrell Fortner.

“I can’t find a thing they’ve done wrong. I think the response was great,” said Black Forest fire victim Frank Blaha.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office responded to the district’s report with this statement, “It is unfortunate that this report contains many opinions and general information not based on facts.”

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.

It’s not clear how the fire started.

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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