Colorado

Mar 14, 2014 8:09 PM by Andy Koen

Neighbors troubled by accusation of favoritism

EL PASO COUNTY - Neighbors are troubled by accusations raised in a report about the Black Forest Fire that a commander with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office received preferential treatment to protect his own home while at at least a half dozen others near by burned completely.

The report, compiled by third party investigator Dave Fisher, states that two fire trucks were diverted to protect the home of then acting Emergency Services Commander Robert McDonald.

The report indicates the order came from Incident Commander Scott Campbell, a subordinate to McDonald in the Sheriff's Office chain of command.

Larry Stanley's property backs up to McDonald's lot. He was upset by what he read in the report.

"How many houses were lost in this area that could have been saved if that crew had been allowed to fight the fire as they needed to fight it?" he asked.

Stanley only knows McDonald casually. However, he expected someone of his position to put the mission first.

"I now wonder if the fight (Sheriff Terry Maketa) picked with (Black Forest Fire Chief Bob) Harvey was to get away from people finding out what happened."

Stanley personally suffered very little damage. However, he agrees with Investigator Fisher's conclusion that the decision to take away resources was "reckless and irresponsible."

"I would hope that they learned lessons and we all learned lessons from making mistakes," Stanley said.

The News 5 Guardians spoke by telephone with the Crupper family, who live next door and lost their home.

While they know McDonald personally and think highly of him, they declined to be interviewed or provide comment.

Fisher's report does not indicate whether Incident Commander Scott Campbell acted on his own initiative or was ordered to do so by McDonald.

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