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Residents want answers from Black Forest Fire Department Chief, Fire Board

Residents want answers from Black Forest Fire Department Chief, Fire Board

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Residents said Wednesday they are frustrated the Black Forest Fire Board and its chief will not comment on decisions made during the initial hours of the Black Forest Fire.

Residents attended a special meeting for the Black Forest Fire Board hoping to get answers from the board. Rick Nearhoof, who attended the meeting, said he walked away with his neighbors disappointed.

People want answers on the heels of the KRDO NewsChannel 13 investigative series into decisions made during the critical first hours of Colorado's most destructive fire.

Nearhoof's home survived the fire, but his outhouses and his horses didn't make it. His neighbors also lost their homes.

"I've been out here a long time, know all my neighbors on this street and it's been hard just because of the devastation," said Nearhoof.

Nearhoof, who spent 34 yeas as a firefighter, retired from Colorado Springs Fire Department this summer. Nearhoof said he knew about concerns about Fire Chief Bob Harvey's decisions made during the initial hours of the fire after talking to his colleagues in the fire fight.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said it took two hours for Chief Harvey to pass command of the fire to the Sheriff's Office. Maketa said it delayed resources from getting into the firefight.

Nearhoof attended a special meeting hosted by the Black Forest Fire Board hoping Harvey would talk about his decisions.

"The fire board comes out during that meeting and says we aren't answering any questions," said Nearhoof.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 has requested interviews with Fire Chief Bob Harvey.

Harvey has declined requests for an interview.

At the next Black Forest Fire Board meeting, Nearhoof and his neighbors plan to hand in a petition calling for the Fire Chief's dismissal. There is also now a petition circulating in Black Forest in support of Harvey.

Nearhoof plans to run for a position on the Fire Board.

"It's time for a change," said Nearhoof.

Ten Black Forest Fire Department staff members signed a letter to the Fire Board. They said in the letter they would be available for any further questions about Harvey's decisions during the initial hours of the fire. KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted the fire station and asked if any of the people listed on the letter would like to discuss the decisions. They would not comment.

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