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Independent Black Forest fire investigation costing thousands

By Jonathan Petramala, Weekend Evening Anchor/Reporter, jonathan.petramala@krdo.com
Published On: Jan 20 2014 11:47:36 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 21 2014 08:14:49 PM CST

An independent investigation to look into conflicting timelines with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office is costing tax payers thousands.

BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

 The Black Forest fire continues to cost residents thousands of dollars.

 After an open records request, KRDO Newschannel 13 has learned that as of January 15th, an independent investigator hired by the Board of Directors for the Black Forest Fire/Rescue District has been paid $13,016.88.

That number is expected to grow as the investigation isn’t expected to be completed until February.

“I just think it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money, and I don’t know why they’re going through with it,” said resident Ray Rozak.

Rozak lost his home in the fire and runs the food pantry at Crosses for Losses.

“The money that they’re spending they could have put cisterns in where they were taxing everybody six-thousand dollars to get the money to put cisterns in.  They’re just wasting money,” Rozak said.

Another resident who lost his home says the money could be worth it.

“I guess its money well spent if you learn something you don’t know already,” Kelly Dunn said.

On December 10th, Board members commissioned retired Greenwood Village Police commander Dave Fisher to direct the inquiry.  Fisher was tasked with investigating accusations by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa that Fire Chief Bob Harvey mishandled management of the fire response in the early stages of the fire.

In an interview earlier this month, Sheriff Maketa talked about the investigation.

“We’re the investigative agency and it’s almost a moot point if they want to launch their own because they don’t have access to the information,” Maketa said.

A statement released last week by Board Chairman Ed Bracken, he said the investigation should be finished by the next board meeting, February 19th.

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