El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa speaks during Sunday’s media briefing. EPC Commission Chair Dennis Hisey on the left. (L. Ruskin)

The Black Forest Fire is now 65% contained, yet thousands of displaced residents are still unable to go home, or see what remains of it. As KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports, throngs of evacuees now come to the daily media briefings, and their frustrations are growing.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey yesterday began describing plans for when residents will be allowed back in their homes. The county plans to supply drinking water, shovels, trash bags, even tetanus shots to keep people safe once they start what will be a massive cleanup. But Sheriff Terry Maketa tried to dial back the crowd’s expectations.

“I don’t want to create a false belief that tomorrow everybody’s going home, because that’s not going to happen. We have a crime scene in there. We have fire in there. We have downed powerlines in there. We have trees falling.”

Maketa says he’s allowed people in to retrieve medication or pets but some then refused to leave. He says he’ll arrest such residents if he has to.

After the press conference, a crowd met with the sheriff away from the media. Some left angry, saying they should be allowed in to defend their homes from looters. Two residents stood at a map of the evacuation zone arguing whether the borders were justified.

Others kept their cool, like Pix Pixley. The 70-something real estate appraiser left home on foot when he first saw smoke, carrying a cat in one hand and leading his horse with the other. As far as he knows, his house is still standing.

“The good part is, my office is in my house, so I’ve had a week vacation, and I haven’t had one in years.”

He came to the press conference wearing a borrowed Hawaii shirt and hiking shorts, the picture of calm.

Sheriff Maketa has continually assured residents their neighborhoods are under constant patrol. By mid-day Sunday he had four burglary cases and one case of impersonating a fire or police official, all of which he said would be prosecuted with vigor.

 

Comments are closed.

News

AP
October 30, 2014 | NPR · After the latest in a flurry of decisions on whether his lack of fluency in the Navajo language disqualifies him from the presidential ballot, Chris Deschene’s candidacy is now in limbo.
 

Adam Cole/NPR
October 30, 2014 | NPR · Explore the guts and glory of pumpkin science with Skunk Bear’s latest video.
 

AFP/Getty Images
October 30, 2014 | NPR · Angered at an impending vote to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-old rule, protesters also reportedly set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters in the capital, Ouagadougou.
 

Arts & Life

October 30, 2014 | NPR · Ready for a Halloween scare? Reviewer Etelka Lehoczky says these graphic novels and compilations — packed with creepy cults, alien monsters, gravediggers and ghosts — are just the ticket.
 

October 30, 2014 | NPR · Poet Galway Kinnell died Tuesday. His career spanned from the end of World War II to the present, earning him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Home in Vermont, Kinnell died from leukemia.
 

NPR
October 29, 2014 | NPR · The Mexican tradition celebrates the dead and welcomes their return to the land of the living once a year. Enticing them to make the trip is where the food, drink and musical offerings come in.
 

Music

Wikimedia Commons
October 30, 2014 | NPR · After composer Robert Schumann died, his Violin Concerto languished in a library — until a grandniece of the man he wrote it for got out her Ouija board.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 29, 2014 | NPR · Joyce DiDonato — a Kansas native and lifelong Royals fan — happens to be one of the world’s greatest opera singers. Here’s what makes her so extraordinary.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 29, 2014 | WFUV · With Marcus Mumford singing lead, a supergroup breathes new life into an old Bob Dylan lyric.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab