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Black Forest Fire Chief Harvey appears to have resigned

August 14, 2014 Updated: August 15, 2014 at 5:45 am
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photo - Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey in July, 2013.  Photo by Linda Navarro, The Gazette
Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey in July, 2013. Photo by Linda Navarro, The Gazette  

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey has resigned, the Black Forest Fire Rescue District board chairman said Thursday.

"He came and cleaned out his office yesterday," said chairman Rick McMorran, who called the action baffling.

"He hasn't said anything directly to the board," McMorran said. "We are aware that he's making that statement."

McMorran said Harvey hasn't had any direct contact with the board since June 4, when he announced that he would be taking a medical leave of absence and walked out of a board meeting.

"Since that time, the Board has awaited word from Chief Harvey on his condition as well as his intentions regarding his return to work. The Board had intended to schedule a meeting with Chief Harvey to discuss this, but then learned that he had apparently made statements elsewhere that he was no longer employed," according to a statement released by the board Thursday night.

The chief appeared to be at odds with the board in the weeks leading up his departure.

In his letter to the board announcing his leave of absence, Harvey said that he was "undergoing medical examination for symptoms that may be related to post traumatic stress disorder."

The PTSD was brought about by fighting the Black Forest fire and a hostile work environment created by newly elected members of the board who had threated his job during their campaigns, the letter said.

"The three board members stated unequivocally that they wanted him to resign," said former chairman Ed Bracken, who was voted off the board in May. 
Three of the new members had also signed a petition to remove Harvey. It began circulating shortly after El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa alleged that Harvey had mishandled the fire.

The allegations were spurred after Harvey told a local TV news station that the fire was "probably" intentionally set.

"His comments are nothing more than an attempt to mislead the public and a mere witch hunt," Maketa had said in a statement.
A inquest launched into the chief's actions during the fire in December cleared him of wrongdoing. The sheriff wasn't convinced.

Assistant Chief for Operations Jim Rebitski is currently the interim fire chief.

Harvey could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

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Contact Lisa Walton: 476-1623

Twitter @LisaWaltonCO

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