Black Forest residents leave community meeting frustrated, angry

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -- For the first time, thousands of people still evacuated from their Black Forest homes came together Saturday for a community meeting organized by two county commissioners at Palmer Ridge High School.

The 10 a.m. meeting was supposed to be the first step in the healing process, but it ultimately ended in frustration and anger.

After thousands of residents packed into the school's overflowing auditorium, county commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton seemed a bit unprepared to deal with the questions that were thrown at them.

“What do we do if we've lost our house?” said Black Forest resident Marilyn Carroll.

Hundreds like her left in anger during the first half hour of the meeting.

“The first ten minutes of the meeting, and she's up there smiling away telling me what to do before a fire. That doesn't do any good for me, that just really makes me mad” said Shawn Galvin, who lost his home in what has become Colorado's most destructive fire in state history.

Many of residents said they came to the meeting looking for information about exactly what had burned, when they could go back in to the area, or at least the status of what’s going on.

“Our house burned to the ground. There’s nothing left,” said Mary Ann Welter, who lived in her home for 25 years.

“Everybody's is so concerned about their property and so traumatized and we just want really solid information,” said homeowner Naomi Ironwing.

Residents such as Tim Carson felt helpless leaving the meeting. Carson has been living in a hotel room with his family since they lost their home when the fire started spreading.

“I'm in a hotel room with my infant son and 15-year-old daughter and wife tripping over each other,” Carson said.

Some were upset the crowd started shouting at the commissioners trying to help them.

“It's just too bad that we can't have a nice meeting. I'm sure their frustrations are getting the best of them,” said homeowner Melody Ramirez.

The community members likely won't get their answers for at least another day or so.

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