Black Forest Fire Protection District hires independent investigator to look into Bob Harvey

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Black Forest's fire chief and his handling of this summer's massive wildfire will be the subject of an outside investigation.

Our affiliate in Colorado Springs, KRDO-TV, reports the Fire District's Board of Directors decided Monday to hire an independent investigator to look into Chief Bob Harvey's decisions during the early hours of that fire.

A petition appeared recently at several businesses in the Black Forest area calling for Harvey's immediate dismissal.

The petition says, "We, the people of Black Forest, due hereby declare that we have no faith in Bob Harvey to hold the position of Fire Chief."

The petition goes on to say that that Harvey has "clearly demonstrated incompetence, arrogance, lack of integrity and ego to be the leader, or manager, of our Fire Rescue Department."

The petition came after a war of words between Harvey and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

Last week, Harvey told KRDO-TV that the fire was human caused.

"I don't think that anybody in the Black Forest area is surprised that this is human caused and probably intentional," Harvey said.

However, Maketa wrote on a Facebook and issued a statement saying he was shocked that Harvey talked about an active investigation and accused Harvey of mishandling the event.

"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," Maketa wrote.

Maketa then went after Harvey.

"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," Maketa wrote. "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."

The Black Forest Fire, in June, caused $85 million in damage and is considered the most destructive fire in Colorado history.

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