EXCLUSIVE: Black Forest Fire Chief Speaks After Sheriff's Allegations

Scene from the Black Forest Fire, June 2013

The Black Forest fire chief spoke exclusively to 11 News about allegations that he is misleading the public and possibly covering up his own incompetence.

Sheriff Terry Maketa blasted Fire Chief Bob Harvey after Harvey told 11 News Wednesday night that investigators believed it was likely the Black Forest Fire was human caused. In a withering statement released early Thursday morning, Maketa referred to Harvey's remarks as "unqualified," a "mere witch hunt," and alleged that Harvey "just may be merely covering up his own mishandling of this event."

Harvey says he has been working with investigators over the past few weeks, and they reached the conclusion that the fire was "likely intentional." He stood by that conclusion Thursday.

He also said there had been no communication with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, who according to Maketa was conducting their own investigation.

"There is no involvement with any investigator outside...within the Sheriff's or district attorney's office involved in this, so I wasn't even aware there was still an active investigation going on.

"There's no communications between the sheriff's office and this department, I don't know about the other departments, to know that any kind of investigation was still ongoing," Harvey said.

Harvey said he was "more than willing" to work with other agencies, and said that there needed to be better communication across agencies.

"I'm more than willing to work with any other law enforcement or fire agency out there in coming to some kind of a consensus decision, and if it is repetitive behavior to make sure that gets stopped."

Harvey had told 11 News that it was a strong possibility that the Black Forest Fire is linked to several small fires that happened at Fox Run Park in July.

As for Maketa's attack on him, Harvey didn't have much to say.

"I really don't have any comment to his reaction. You know, he's the sheriff, he's a politician, he can say what he wants to say about it."

Families in Black Forest told us they just want answers about the investigation, from the sheriff or the chief.

"Now it’s time to say hey, this is what's happening and this is kind of what we know, we're not going to give you all the details but, give us some," homeowner Dan Hagel said.

"I have been wondering why we haven’t' heard anything really about the investigation I hope that's because they just didn't have any information to share," homeowner Aimee Rogers added.

11 News will continue to follow all developments related to the fire investigation.