BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

A Denver PR firm is receiving thousands of dollars from the Board of Directors for the Black Forest Fire/Rescue District.

 An open record request by KRDO Newschannel 13 uncovered that Webb Strategic Communications has been paid $5,826.90 up to date. 

 The firm was hired to handle communications during the independent investigation launched by the board into a dispute with El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa about the timeline of the early hours of the Black Forest Fire.

 “It’s a fire department.  I don’t see any reason for my money to go toward a PR firm,” said Pete Claus who owns property in Black Forest.

 “I don’t think they should be using a PR firm to defend what they did.  I think facts should just come out and people can interpret that however they want to interpret it,” said Black Forest resident Ken Mann.

 Fire Chief Bob Harvey and the entire Board have remained silent since the investigation has been launched, declining to answer both the public and the media’s questions.

 Another open records request by KRDO Newschannel 13 earlier this week discovered that the investigator hired by the Board, Dave Fisher, has been paid $13,016.88 as of January 15th.

 Mann says he wishes the district would have saved their money.

 “Human nature is to be defensive about every decision we make, but if someone from the outside looks at it and says, yeah, you thought you were doing the right thing but really you should have done this, then learn from that so the next time something like this happens, then we respond differently and maybe we don’t have the same outcome of what we had,” Mann said.

 The investigation into the disputed timeline is expected to be finished by the February 19th meeting.