BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

Fire Chief Bob Harvey had been under scrutiny ever since Sheriff Terry Maketa accused him of mishandling the Black Forest Fire.

But Wednesday night, the board confirmed Harvey had “separated himself from employment,” and now the search is on for a new chief.

“The board will now be starting the search and selection process to find the best qualified person,” said Rick McMorran, board chairman.

“We need a new fire chief. I think there was a lot of baggage associated with the last one,” said Seth Whitworth, Black Forest resident. “This new board has a lot of opportunity to move forward and provide for its residents a little better.”

No resignation letter or verbal notice was ever submitted. In fact, the board hasn’t talked to Harvey in almost three months.

“Confusion, turning in his medical leave. Not letting us know when he was coming back to work,” McMorran said.

Harvey took a leave of absence in June, citing post-traumatic stress disorder from fighting the fire and the following investigation.

Last week, he removed his name from the door and returned district property.

But he never told anyone if he had actually resigned.

“We’ve accepted that as a public statement of resignation,” McMorran said. “We did not fire him.”

Regardless, residents in Black Forest say it’s time to move forward, hoping to see leadership focused on fighting fires and not politics.

“I don't think it's good to focus on what went wrong unless we can learn to do better in the future,” Whitworth said.

The board will post Harvey’s open position, but says it could take several months before a new chief is hired.