BFF Chief Harvey to speak in Reno

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Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey speaks at a news briefing on June 14, the same day he gave the Independent an interview about the fire's first hours. In March he'll give a seminar at a national conference about lessons learned. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey speaks at a news briefing on June 14, the same day he gave the Independent an interview about the fire's first hours. In March he'll give a seminar at a national conference about lessons learned.

Given the brouhaha over who did what in the early hours of the Black Forest Fire, and the pointed accusations by Sheriff Terry Maketa that Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey botched things, get this:

Harvey is a speaker at the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Wildland Urban-Interface conference in Reno in March.

Specifically, Harvey speaks on March 19 for an hour on "Lessons Learned from the Colorado Black Forest Fire"

The conference description states:

In June 2013, the Black Forest Fire claimed more residential structures lost to wildfire than any other fire in Colorado history. Nearly 15,000 acres were consumed, all essentially within the interface. At one point, nearly 40,000 residents had to be evacuated. Local officials will share their experiences and how they learned from similar fires such as the Wallow Fire [sic] from the previous year. 
Harvey will be joined in the presentation by Falcon Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Vernon Chaplin.

The Black Forest Fire claimed nearly 500 homes and two lives.

In an interview with the Independent three days after the fire began, Harvey said he was first on scene with three fire apparatuses at about 1:40 p.m.

"We were prepared for a fire event to happen as extreme as the weather was,” he said. “It was moving rapidly eastward, some of the most rapid fire behavior outside of Waldo Canyon [Fire] we’ve seen.”

He said he turned the fire over to Deputy County Fire Marshal Scott Campbell within an hour. Campbell in turn handed the fire to the state, which then hired him to command the blaze until federal Type 1 Team commander Rich Harvey's team arrived within a day or so.

Maketa disputes Harvey's version, saying Harvey didn't relinquish control until nearly 5 p.m. Maketa documents this with a detailed timeline released Monday.

Harvey told the Independent on June 14, under questioning about why he retained command for so long, "We thought we had an opportunity to catch this fire with the resources we had.”

Yet he also said in the same interview that he knew the fire would go big from the start. “It was basically get people out and let it run its course," he said during the interview. "There was no difference in the outcome and no difference in the ability to get resources” no matter who was in command.

Maketa plans to release his after-action report in coming weeks.

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