Firefighting, Wildland Firefighting

Black Forest Fire Investigation Nearly Finished

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into how the 2013 Black Forest Fire started is nearly concluded, but El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the office is waiting on a U.S. Forestry Report, reports

According to the sheriff’s office, $9.8 million was spent on the more-than-14,000-acre Black Forest Fire. The fire began on June 11, 2013 and the first 911 call came in at 1:42 p.m. and destroyed 489 residences. Two people lost their lives in the fire. More than 133,000 gallons of retardant was used to fight the fire, as well as more than 866,000 gallons of water.

Sheriff Terry Maketa discussed the county’s strengths and weaknesses in responding to the 2013 fire and how that impacts the future. Maketa praised the National Guard’s response to the fire. He also said the strength of the Black Forest Fire was giving the public the information they needed to stay safe, but he did admit more in-depth debriefings should have happened in his department. Maketa said they learned a lesson from the Waldo Canyon Fire and tried to assess damaged homes early.

Maketa went on to say the biggest issue they encountered was communication within departments because there were “too many radio frequencies.” He said the air support was not immediate enough. Maketa also talked about how more static water supply locations would have helped them fight the fire. The department has since purchased protective fire equipment.

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