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Cause remains unknown six weeks after Black Forest Fire

Published On: Jul 23 2013 07:38:46 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 23 2013 08:45:30 PM CDT

Investigations continue on the causes of the Black Forest Wildfire and of three suspicious fires in the area recently.


The six weeks since the Black Forest Fire have been frustrating for residents who want to know how it started, and for investigators seeking a cause and a suspect.

Lt. Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office  said there are no new leads, but investigators continue to look at evidence previously gathered in hopes of finding clues.

"I know that they have different items of evidence under analysis at laboratories," said Kramer.  "When they get those reports back, that could end up providing some forward momentum, as well."

Kramer said it's worth noting that investigators still haven't found a cause for the Waldo Canyon Fire 13 months ago.  He said arson cases typically take a long time and a lot of work, and in 85% of cases, a suspect is never found.

Authorities previously ruled out natural causes like lightning, and said the possibility of arson was small because they found no gasoline, matches or other accelerant usually found in arson fires.  Investigators said the cause appears more likely to be accidental, but they want to know exactly how it happened and who was involved.

The Waldo Canyon Fire, authorities said, was caused by a person.  However, they're still trying to determine whether it was set accidentally or intentionally.
Meanwhile, tension remains high among Black Forest residents after three suspicious fires in the Fox Run Park are, in the past week.

The Butts family learned about the new fires while vacationing in California, hoping to forget about the wildfire that destroyed nearly 500 homes.

"My wife checked her phone and got an email from some friends," said Sean Butts, who lives near the site of one fire at the intersection of Stagecoach and Rollercoaster roads.  "(She) heard it was put out right away, so we didn't rush back.  We thought maybe it's the same person who started the wildfire.  Obviously, we're scared."

Butts said his daughters, ages 11 and nine, were frightened by the wildfire, and he hesitated to tell them about the suspicious fires during the family's vacation.

"I didn't want to freak them out, so we told them they were put out right away, and they felt okay," he said.

Authorities so far have not found a connection between the wildfire and the three suspicious fires.


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