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Black Forest Fire dispatch timeline released

Black Forest Fire dispatch timeline released

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - The El Paso County sheriff released a timeline Monday of firefighting efforts during the initial hours of the Black Forest fire.

He released radio recordings, maps and notes from the responders that dispute the timeline released by the Black Forest Fire Department.

All this comes after a KRDO NewsChannel 13 investigation of Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey's initial handling of the most destructive fire in Colorado history.

"I have no problem laying our cards on the table, letting people form an opinion themselves," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

Maketa said people have the right to know what happened on Tuesday, June 11.

"The community wants to understand how something like this begins and the lessons that can be learned from it," said Maketa.

The new website catalogs communication between responders during the initial hours of the fire -- the sheriff's office has spent weeks piecing all this information together so it's easy for the public to understand.

Harvey was the incident commander during the initial hours of the Black Forest fire, before he passed control to the sheriff's office.

Maketa said Harvey should have ordered evacuations early.

"That's one of the things that really jumped out to me was how long it took," said Maketa.

Firefighters were dispatched to the Black Forest fire just after 1:40 p.m. However, a fire progression map released Monday showed no evacuations were ordered as of 2:45 p.m.

At 2:46 p.m. the first evacuations were ordered.  Harvey was the incident commander at that time, but it was an assistant fire marshal with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office that ordered mandatory evacuations.

"It's the decision the incident commander first on scene should begin, going through that process, thinking about safety on the front end and you don't see it," said Maketa.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted the Black Forest Fire Board. Its public relations spokesperson released the following statement:

"In light of Sheriff Terry Maketa's news release today, Black Forest Fire/Rescue has received requests for interviews.  As you are no doubt aware, Black Forest Fire/Rescue initiated an investigation in late 2013, which is ongoing.  We will continue to refrain from public comment until our investigators' work is complete.

We have yet not reviewed the Sheriff's statement and timeline, but do plan to provide it to the investigative team for review; doubtless it does contain some information that may coincide with what our team is finding.

We do question why the Sheriff felt it necessary to issue his timeline at this point, given that the investigation and internal review of matters related to the Black Forest Fire is ongoing.  Sheriff Maketa has met with our investigator and is cooperative."

According to a press release previously released by the Black Forest Fire Board, the fire was out of control at 2:18 p.m.

However, new radio transmissions released by Maketa Monday showed Harvey wasn't using all the resources available.

"At 2:18 he loses the fire.  At 2:18 he tells Larkspur Command Responding Unit 16, 'Just keep your ears open in case you're needed' and that's an indication he didn't see where that fire was developing or where that fire truly was," said Maketa.

Maketa's timeline also reveals Harvey never checked on air resources.

"I think every minute counts and even if aircraft is not available at that time, at least you have them notified and if something does free up, it can be diverted," said Maketa.

Click here for a link to the timeline released by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office:


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