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Choosing to ignore mandatory evacuation

Several Black Forest homeowners risk lives and safety

Refusing To Evacuate

BLACK FOREST, Colo. - No residents are supposed to be in the area of Black Forest under a mandatory evacuation order.  But some have refused to leave, and authorities can't force them out.

Ed Rowley is one of those who has refused to evacuate.  He lives on the northeast edge of the evacuation zone.  Rowley said he left briefly, but returned because his wife is disabled and his home has the facilities she needs.

Rowley also said he's concerned about his property being protected if he leaves.

"I've seen cops at some intersections, but not at others," he said.  "And I've seen people sneaking in where there are no cops.  I don't feel that things are protected."

Rowley said evacuating should be solely his decision, not the authorities'. 

"I'm on top of a hill, and I can see all around, " he said.  "I kind of slept through the night lightly and kept my eye on the window.  So I could see if anything was coming.  I can leave if I need to."

Lt. Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said if a homeowner refuses to obey a mandatory evacuation order, the office records the address and the number of occupants inside.

"But there's no guarantee we can rescue them if they get in trouble," said Kramer.  "We don't want to risk the lives of our own people.  I understand their point, but there's a reason we issue an evacuation.  We ask for patience and understanding until we determine it's safe to come home."

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