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Sheriff: Cause of Colorado fire may never be known

Tuesday - 6/10/2014, 6:27pm  ET

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa speaks to the press Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at the Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs, Colo., 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. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Investigators believe they know where the Black Forest Fire ignited but they might never know for sure how Colorado's most destructive fire started, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa (mah-KEE'-tah) said Tuesday.

Maketa did not reveal the location during a briefing on the "after-action" report on how his office responded to the fire, which broke out a year ago Wednesday. However, smoking, a campfire, a train, lightning and children playing with matches have been ruled out as starting the blaze that destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two people in Black Forest, north of Colorado Springs.

"I don't know that we'll every have a concrete source of ignition," he said.

Sheriff's investigators are close to wrapping up their probe into how the fire started. Once the U.S. Forest Service finalizes its report on the blaze, Maketa said his investigators would turn over their findings to the district attorney's office, where prosecutors will determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

Investigators previously said the fire was human-caused. Maketa has said there is no evidence it was intentionally set.

The cause of the state's second-most destructive fire, the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire, still hasn't been determined.

Maketa also faced questions about allegations that he had affairs with female subordinates and removed controls over his office's budget. County commissioners have asked to him to resign because of the scandal, but he said would not.

Maketa said the matter wouldn't get in the way of his employees doing their jobs.

"The distractions that I am responsible for have not in any way interfered with their responsibilities or duties," he said.


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