June 11th. Exactly six months ago. It’s one of those rare infamous days that many in El Paso County will always remember.
“I was actually going to lunch at the time and I got up on the interstate and I saw the plume of smoke up towards the Black Forest,” said Al Harmon.
Harmon is the Law Enforcement Bureau Chief for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. He says the clearest memory from that day happened about two hours after he arrived in the Black Forest.
“At 3-55 Chief Harvey delegated authority to the Sheriff. The reason I know that is because I was standing directly behind the Sheriff and the Sheriff raised his hand like this to look at his watch and verbally said its 3-55,” Harmon said.
That transfer allowed more resources to be thrown at the most destructive fire in Colorado history. The timing of the transfer of authority is disputed by the Black Forest Fire Department.
- 1:45 P.M. the fire was located.
- 2:18 P.M. they say the fire was out of control.
- 3:10 P.M. control was passed to the State.
What accounts for the 45-minute difference between when the Black Forest Fire Department says the transfer happened and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office?
“Well, that’s incorrect. I just told you it occurred at 3:55. It didn’t occur at 3:10,” Harmon said. “Since I was there and I witnessed it, it’s inaccurate.”
The Black Forest Fire Department won’t answer any questions until at least the New Year when the investigator they hired to look into these events, is expected to report back.