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Sheriff's Office issues Black Forest fire report

By: The Gazette
June 9, 2014 Updated: June 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm
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El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa speaks to the press Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at the Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs, about the details of the Black Forest Fire action report on the eve of the anniversary of the fire. Maketa wouldn't talk about the recent allegations of sexual improprieties in his office. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

 

Editors Note: For a full recap of The Gazette's tweets during the Maketa press conference, check out our Storify curation at the bottom of the article.

The area of ignition for last summer's Black Forest fire has been identified, but the El Paso County Sheriff's Office may never have the source of ignition, Sheriff Terry Maketa said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Maketa would not identify the exact location when talking about the "after-action" fire report, but did rule out lightning, smoking, campfires and railroad activity as causes of the June 11, 2013 fire. Nearby children at play were also ruled out as a cause.

"I don't know if we'll ever have a concrete source," Maketa said.

Maketa - embroiled in allegations of repeated sexual impropriety, discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, violating the civil rights of those who work in the Sheriff's Office, using intimidation to keep people quiet about his misdeeds and removing almost all oversight of the $60 million Sheriff's Office annual budget - would not answer most questions regarding the recent accusations.

Maketa did reiterate that he plans on staying in office to complete his current term.

When asked if the press conference was held to steer attention from the scandal, Maketa said: "People can say what they want. ... It would be a disservice" to not provide information from the "after-action" report.

"There's a lot of facts" that are going to come out of the independent investigation, Maketa said of the allegations against him.

Maketa then nearly shut down the news conference.

The Black Forest fire was the worst fire in Colorado history. It destroyed 488 homes and killed two residents.

Maketa said lessons were learned because of the Black Forest fire, and that local agencies are better prepared to respond to another potential fire.

In December, while disputing a timeline released by the Black Forest Fire and Rescue District, the office reported that they had expected to have the report ready in the first quarter of 2014.

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