TODAY   |  June 14, 2013

Colo. sheriff: We’re investigating fires as homicide

Terry Maketa, El Paso County’s sheriff, talks about the raging wildfire that has destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado and killed two, warning people not to wait too long before evacuating or underestimate the wildfire’s speed.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> course that fire is only one of several burning across the state of colorado this morning. terry is the sheriff of el paso county colorado. good morning to you.

>> good morning matt.

>> it's the loss of life that's so tragic. the two people found in their garage. i heard reports they were on the phone to friends saying they were about to leave and the friends could hear the sound of popping and crackling in the background. is the tragic lesson here that people may be waiting too long to get out of arms way.

>> well, you know, i think it's a combination of people waiting just a little too long and underestimating the speed at which a fire can move on them. we had a report at 4:20 they were on the phone with another friend. they said they could see a glow to the west and here we are 40 minutes later and another caller says they could hear crackling and background noise and they claim they were leaving at that moment.

>> you now have two fatalitities. is it fair to say the investigation is now a homicide investigation.

>> obviously with the two deaths that's how we will be pursuing it and how we're looking at it and treating every aspect of the investigation.

>> i was looking at what you had in terms of resources. 750 people on the ground in round the clock shifts. is this the situation where the more people you have the better chance you have to control it or are these people simply no match for mother nature ?

>> well, mother nature challenged us the last couple of days. today is supposed to be another windy day and having the bodies will certainly be an asset. it's two fronts fighting the fire. number one is the containment and stopping the growth and number two is actually within the actual fire and offering the structure protection and being able to move quickly to each residence because it's spotty and jumping around and we're talking about a fairly large area.

>> all right. i know your folks have your hands full today. i appreciate you taking time with us this morning.

>> you're welcome. thanks for having me.