Local News

Black Forest Fire Board says independent review found 'no professional misconduct' on the part of Chief Harvey

Black Forest Fire Board to release findings of investigation

The Black Forest Fire Board says an independent investigation into Chief Bob Harvey's handling of the Black Forest fire affirms his leadership abilities.

A statement provided by the board blasts the media and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa for their handling of this situation, and announces the creation of a new fire authority in partnership with the Donald Wescott Fire District.

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Earlier report

The Black Forest Fire Board plans to release results of an independent investigation while residents wondered Tuesday if their questions will be answered.

It's been four months since accusations were made against Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey. The Fire Board and Harvey have declined requests for interviews during that time, deferring to its ongoing investigation into the fire board.

The Black Forest Fire board hired an investigator after KRDO NewsChannel 13's investigation into Harvey's judgement calls during the initial hours of the fire.

Harvey and the investigator will discuss the results of the investigation at a press conference at the firehouse on Teachout Road at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Nigel Thompson has been living in a mobile home since the wildfire took his home eight months ago. He's been busy rebuilding but the investigation has stayed top-of-mind. He doesn't think it will solve anything.

"At the end of the day, none of this brings any homes back. I don't think any of it is going to help a whole hell of a lot," said Thompson.

The investigator hired by the board looked into allegations made by Maketa that Harvey mishandled the Black Forest Fire. Maketa said Harvey didn't turn over command of the fire to the Sheriff's Office fast enough and it delayed resources from getting into the fire fight.

The Sheriff's Office and the fire board released two conflicting timelines of what happened during the initial hours of the Black Forest Fire.

"There are a lot of rumors and I wanted to see answers to those rumors, wanted to see a hard timeline," said Black Forest resident Elizaveth Brannan.

Fire Board chairman Ed Bracken said in an email to fire board members Feb. 16:

"It is our anticipation that these sessions will put to rest the allegations that have been made against Chief Harvey and by association the District at large," said Bracken.

The Fire Board will release a statement and answer questions after a closed-door session 11 a.m. tomorrow at Fire Station 1 at 11445 Teachout Road.  At 2 p.m., Harvey and the investigator will hold a press conference at Fire Station 1. At 6:30, the Fire Board will hold its monthly board meeting.

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