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Fire evacuee confronts EPC sheriff

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Jun 19 2013 08:38:41 PM CDT

Homeowner disputes being in the mandatory evacuation zone and being kept from his home.

BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

Two Black Forest Fire evacuees, unhappy with being evacuated for a week, returned to their homes Wednesday after KRDO NewsChannel 13 checked into the situation.

William Loftin and Bill Edwards both expressed dissatisfaction about their homes being in the mandatory evacuation zone, and wondered why they couldn't go home with no visible fire nearby and the overall containment at 95 percent.

Loftin demanded to speak directly with El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa after the daily fire briefing.  The two held a brief conversation.  Loftin lives in the center of the fire zone near the intersection of Holmes and Vessey roads.

After speaking with Maketa, Loftin said, "They were lining up the fire trucks for (others) to go in, but they wouldn't let the east side of Holmes Road go in."

After the briefing, Edwards asked KRDO NewsChannel 13 to investigate why he couldn't return to his home on the west edge of the evacuation zone along Highway 83. 

"I think we've been kind of forgotten," said Edwards.  "There's my house and two others on our lane.  One burned.  We're isolated.  You could be back there for days and no one would ever see you.  A thief could take everything out of the house.  (Authorities) evacuated us, but they're not patrolling our area for security.  If they're not going to guard us, let us guard our own property."

KRDO NewsChannel 13 spoke with the sheriff's office Wednesday and was told that by late afternoon, Loftin's and Edwards' neighborhoods reopened, allowing them to go home.

Maketa said he understands evacuees' frustrations.

"Some people won't accept the realities that exist," he said.  "It's part of how a fire disrupts lives."

In a related matter, Loftin also asked Maketa about the initial response in his neighborhood to the fire last week.

"There were no fire assets (last Tuesday afternoon) from 4:00 to 5:30 when the electricity went off," Loftin said.  "But there were lots of police cars, and only one stopped and offered any kind of assistance.  They could have helped more, maybe assisting older residents like me."

Maketa said he couldn't speak to the fire response before his arrival.

"It was a Black Forest Fire District response," he said.  "I think they did a good job.  But again, there's going to be individuals who want answers they can't get."

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