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A Miner's Last Words; Miners who Escaped; Survivor's Fight; Is Lightning to Blame?; Identifying the Dead; Dog Whisperer; Colorado's Biggest Fire

Aired January 5, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: and I know I had read a statement by someone else in your family that -- I mean, what do you think those last moments were like for him? Because also in this letter he says, it wasn't bad --

COOPER: Just went to sleep. What do you make of that?

TOLER: I think he wanted to set our minds at ease, that we knew that he didn't suffer and I just think that God gave him peace at the end.

COOPER: Do you think he saw others around him going to sleep as well?

TOLER: Yes, I do. I think that's part of what that meant.

COOPER: And then at the bottom of the note, he scrawls the last bit of paper, I love you.

TOLER: That's right. I think that was meant for his wife only. But, of course, he meant he loved us all, but that was specifically for his wife, I think.

COOPER: Tell us about your uncle. I mean, what kind of man was he? You said he was a religious man. I mean, I've seen this beautiful --

TOLER: He was a very jolly, happy person that never displayed any depression or any down moments. He always kept his chin up. Always laughing and good-naturedly teasing you.

COOPER: And we've got this beautiful picture at a wedding and also with his grandson, I believe.


COOPER: His name is Cole -- is that correct?

TOLER: Yes. Don't you think Martin's a handsome man?

COOPER: Well, it's a beautiful photo. I mean, there's so much joy in it and a closeness that really comes out in that photo. I've been looking at it for several hours now.

TOLER: Well, our family wants to say, too, that we have nothing, but gratitude towards the coal management, Sam Kitts and his brother Gene and Ben Hatfield. They did a heroic effort with a great deal of pressure on them. I just really feel for them and the burden that they were under that night.

COOPER: It's clear that they felt that burden. I mean, you could see it in the press conferences and as many hard questions as have been asked of them, I don't think anyone doubts that this has taken a real toll on them.

TOLER: Yes. We really feel for them and we really appreciate their efforts. We have nothing -- we have no animosity at all.

COOPER: Are there questions that you still want answered?

TOLER: Not really. We just basically accepted this as the way things have been and it's just best to leave some things alone.

COOPER: You want Martin's last words to speak --

TOLER: Absolutely.

COOPER: -- speak the loudest. Tell all I'll see them on the other side.

TOLER: Absolutely. That's what he wanted. That's why he wrote the note the way he did.

COOPER: We have heard from other family members that there are maybe as many as four notes. Have you talked to other family members or have you seen other notes?

TOLER: I haven't, but if there is, I'm sure that they probably used my uncle's ink pen because coal miners typically don't carry ink pens, just the section boss does. And I'm sure he would have directed them to do that and I'm sure he probably told them that it didn't look good and that they needed to make peace with their maker.

COOPER: And the piece of paper, what is it written on?

TOLER: It's written on some kind of insurance form that he had in his pocket for some reason I'm not sure why.

COOPER: And you think that the pen -- it's written in pen. You think the pen was his and maybe he gave it to other miners as well?

TOLER: I would think. I worked several years in the mines with him and I don't know of any other coal miners except the section boss that would carry an ink pen. There was just really no purpose in carrying it and you have so much other equipment to carry, that you wouldn't want to do that.

COOPER: Randy, did Martin like mining? I mean, how long had he been a miner? TOLER: Approximately 32 or 33 years and it was his whole life. That's all he knew.

COOPER: And I mean, and again we're showing this picture of his grandson. I love the fact that he named his grandson Cole.

TOLER: Yes. He had a special bond with that one. The minute they first met, they just seemed to be soul mates. I know he loved his other grandchildren, but Cole was a soul mate.

COOPER: And do a lot of people in your family work in the mines? I know you said you worked there for a while.

TOLER: Yes. At one time or another most all of the male members in my family have worked underground.

COOPER: What's it like, you know, going into those mines every day? I mean it is such a tough job. You guys are so brave doing it.

TOLER: Well, Anderson, when you grow up with it and you start at such a young age, when you feel that you're invincible, it's an adventure-type thing. And you're too young and dumb to worry about a lot of dangers because, like I said, you feel invincible. But the danger is there. But the nation needs coal and we need energy as well as we need defense. And soldiers put their lives on the line every day and go right back every day and coal miners are the same way.

COOPER: Well, it has been an honor for me to be down in your community these last couple of days. I'm sorry it was under these circumstances. But I got to tell you, every time I turn up the thermostat in my house or use electricity, I'm going to think about where it comes from now, more I think than I ever have before. I don't think I really ever thought about it very much.

TOLER: Well, Anderson, you guys with CNN have done a terrific job and you, in particular, have done a terrific job and we appreciate it.

COOPER: Randy, that means a lot to me. And I do appreciate you saying that and I hope we can meet one day. I've told Jodi down there with the Rotary Club that I'm hoping to come down for the Strawberry Festival at the end of May and if I do, I'd love to see you in happier times.

TOLER: Yes, that would be a great thing.

COOPER: All right, well please give my thoughts and prayers to your family. And my best to you. And I appreciate you taking the time to call in and tell us about your uncle and about what he's done.

TOLER: Thank you for the opportunity.

COOPER: And again, just to leave you, our viewers, with the words of Martin Toler, Jr. He says, Tell all I will see them on the other side. He also went on to say, It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep. And he went to say, I love you. Monday morning began just like every other shift for the men who worked the Sago Mine in West Virginia, but we know that 12 of the men who descended into the earth that day did not come out alive. Other men did and tonight, they are sharing their harrowing stories of what happened. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): Early Monday morning, Elton Wamsley went to work at the Sago Mine. About 10,000 feet in, it happened.

ELTON WAMSLEY, SAGO MINE SURVIVOR: It was just a big blast of air, dust, smoke and then it started getting hot.

KAYE, (on camera): Did you ever see any fire?


KAYE: What did you hear?

WAMSLEY: Just roar and rushing wind. I thought it was a roof fall somewhere in the mine.

KAYE, (voice-over): Wamsley was with a team of 15 miners. They and another miner, a fire boss, working farther up, all realized they were in grave danger as the heat and the smoke kept coming at them.

WAMSLEY: I thought we was going to die. Especially when the heat and the smoke. I didn't think we would get out.

KAYE: They pushed their way to safe air pockets, put on their emergency breathing apparatus and managed to escape.

(On camera): How did you manage to get to a safe pocket when there's this rushing wind and moist dust air, as you describe it?

WAMSLEY: Just have to feel your way along 'til you find it.

KAYE: What did it look like in there?

WAMSLEY: Well, it was just -- it was dark. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

KAYE (voice-over): Wamsley's wife, Shannon, was at home. It was lightning. Something didn't feel right. She raced to the mine after learning of the explosion.

SHANNON WAMSLEY, WIFE OF MINER WAMSLEY: One of the wives had come up and it was horrible. She was crying, wondering where her husband was and asking Elton, and that's when it dawned on me that I was very fortunate. And I went from being happy to being very -- I guess the feelings I went through was feeling guilty that I had my husband.

KAYE: The other team of miners, about 3,000 feet ahead of Wamsley's team, were trapped.

(On camera): How hard was it to get yourselves out, knowing what might have happened to the rest of them?

WAMSLEY: It was hard, but you got to think about your own individual family first.

KAYE: Have you given any thought to why them and why not all of you?

WAMSLEY: Yes. What delayed us that morning.

KAYE (voice-over): Wamsley's crew needed a bigger buggy to take them in. It delayed them ten minutes and saved their lives.

(On camera): That's an incredible thing to have escaped possible death, just my minutes.

WAMSLEY: Yes, because if it had been a normal day, then we'd have been right behind them. We would have already been around the turn.

KAYE: And caught in the explosion?

WAMSLEY: If we'd have went around the turn, we'd have been stuck.

S. WAMSLEY: How can you truly be happy when all the other miners' wives are going through such a hard time? And it's -- if he would have been further, I would be right there with them.

WAMSLEY: I told my wife, I said, they're behind the barricade. They'll find them.

KAYE (voice-over): Rescue crews did find them, but it was too late. Only one miner, Randall McCloy, was still alive.

S. WAMSLEY: I touch him every day and lately I wake up and I stare at him when he's sleeping and he snores and I used to complain about it. I don't complain about it anymore.


KAYE: Now, Elton Wamsley told me today that he remembers the lightning that morning and he believed that -- it was a strange thing for him, too, because he doesn't remember seeing a lot of lightning in this area in the month of January.

He also told me that he doesn't remember any smell of gas or anything in the mine that morning, Anderson. But most importantly, he wanted to point out that there were actually 17 survivors, Anderson, of this mining accident. He said there were 15 members of his team. There was a fire boss far behind him, much closer to the mine's entrance, and of course, Randall McCloy, who is now in the hospital.

And he thinks that knowing that knowing that 17 people actually survived this accident is better for the community. And he thinks it will help them heal faster here.

COOPER: All right. Randi, thanks.

Randy McCloy, Jr., was not in the right place at the right time on Monday morning. Of course, some how survived being trapped for more than 40 hours in that mine. The only miner to survive the ordeal.

As we've been reporting tonight, his condition of course remains serious. And there are new concerns -- new reasons for concern about his long-term recovery. CNN's Chris Huntington looks into that.


CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Randy McCloy's mother, it's the small things that give her hope.

TAMBRA FLINT, MOTHER OF RANDY MCCLOY JR.: He's fighting really hard to become completely, you know, awake and alert.

HUNTINGTON: Doctors are seeing slight improvements in his kidney, liver and lung function, but McCloy remains in a coma. And the doctors say it appears he has suffered some brain damage.

DR. JOHN PRESCOTT, WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We do believe that there has been some injury. But he's not waking up as quickly as we had hoped to, for him to do.

HUNTINGTON: So today, with his other vital signs strong enough to make the trip, an ambulance moved McCloy to a Pittsburgh hospital, where he is undergoing treatment in a special pressurized oxygen chamber.

DR. RICHARD SHANNON, ALLEGHENY GENERAL HOSPITAL: We are doing this because we want to leave no stone unturned. We want to offer him every possible benefit.

HUNTINGTON: The married father of a 4-year-old son and a 1-year- old daughter remains on dialysis and on a ventilator. Though doctors say he is taking a few breaths on his own as well.

Family and faith seem to be the key to his recovery. McCloy's wife, parents, even his children are spending every possible moment they can at his side.

FLINT: For instance, when you know, you talk about things that he really loves to do, or if his children are around, he's moving a lot more. You can just tell that he's aware.

HUNTINGTON: But for now, doctors are declining to predict the pace of McCloy's recovery.

PRESCOTT: It just is so difficult to say how he's going to recover, how Randy is going to recover, what he's going to be like and what level of functioning he'll have in the future.

HUNTINGTON: Yet in the end, doctors say in many ways it's a miracle Randy McCloy survived at all.

DR. LARRY ROBERTS, WEST VIRGINIA HOSPITAL: Three minutes of oxygen deprivation to the brain can result in irreversible brain damage. Three minutes. Compare that to what Randy underwent in the mines, 40 plus hours. It really does fall into the realm of a miracle that he's with us at all.


HUNTINGTON: Anderson, we've spoken with members of Randy's family, his brothers, his stepfather, who described his Randy as a tough, fit guy. If anyone could come through this, it would be Randy in their estimation. The prognosis today, Anderson, as you know from what we've just reported, frankly, not as encouraging as it was just 24 hours ago because now despite the improvement in his vital organs -- heart, lung, liver and kidney -- this inactivity or the lesser activity in the brain waves than they'd like to see is disturbing.

We're here in Pittsburgh at Allegheny General. He'll be undergoing these treatments for some days. He's already had one treatment. We're told that he'll do two 90-minute treatments per day in the hyperbaric chamber. When asked how much oxygen pressure, the doctor said that in each treatment it will be ramped up slowly with close monitoring of Randy's response -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Chris, thanks.

As Randy McCloy fights for his recovery, the search for the cause of the mine explosion continues. Is it really possible that lightning was to blame? If so, coming up, research that may answer both those questions.

Also, investigators say some of the wild fires in the southern planes are the work of arsonists. One young man in particular has been charged. How can they prove that, though? We're going to show you how it was done in one case. Colorado's largest wild fire, back in 2002.

Across America and around the world, this is 360.


COOPER: When the cause of the explosion in the Sago Mine is finally learned, the fallout could be great. A brother-in-law of one of the miners told CNN, quote, "I hope it's not the fault of the mine, that it's an act of God, rather than negligence."

What about an act of nature? From the very first day, lightning was put forward as a possible explanation. CNN's Tom Foreman has been working this angle in the story for us.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fierce lightning storm was pounding the hills of West Virginia when the Sago Mine exploded. Federal investigators now put the time of the blast officially at approximately 6:30 a.m. That time matters because CNN has learned that at precisely 6:26:35 remote sensors detected two lightning bolts hitting the ground above the Sago Mine complex; one, somewhere in this area, very close to the explosion itself. From the start, authorities have been wondering if lightning might be to blame.

ROGER NICHOLSON, GENERAL COUNSEL FOR ICG: The incident coincided with a local thunderstorm, but we do not know at this time whether those events were related.

FOREMAN: Suspicion that lightning ground strikes might trigger explosions far below, drove this study four years ago by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety and a researcher at the University of Alabama. The report found that this could happen, especially if the lightning followed a metal conductor.

For example, if lightning hit a natural gas well on the ground above the Sago Mine and followed the steel casing on the drill hole below the well, the electrical charge could ride the metal through the ground, the abandoned and sealed part of the mine where explosive gasses might have collected. Possibly touching off an explosion that would blow out into the working mine.

We do know that the fatal Sago explosion erupted out of a closed portion of the mine. That report on lightning and mines says, "The presence of a steel cased borehole dramatically enhances the possibility of lightning initiating an explosion in a mine." And a state mining official told CNN there are gas wells above this mine with pipes running right through the Sago coal scene.


TOM FOREMAN: This is absolutely the most information we've had so far about how lightning could have reached into the ground and caused this accident. Investigators have said, look, this is just one theory at this point. But it's a theory they are looking very closely at, at the state and the federal level and it may in the end hold a very important key as to what happened and why a sealed off portion of the mine suddenly exploded.

COOPER: It's amazing that you can be so precise as to where lightning has struck from those on-the-ground sensors. Tom, appreciate that. Thank you.

So given what this study has found, the question is, is it really safe to have miners working in areas with so many of the gas pipes running through them? Well, obviously, that will be part of the investigation ahead.

Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS" joins us with some of the other stories we're following tonight. Erica, good evening.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson. Good evening to you.

President Bush is getting advice on Iraq from a rather unlikely source outside his inner circle. Today, the president hosted more than a dozen former secretaries of state and defense at the White House. Among the guests at this rather unusual meeting, critics of Mr. Bush's Iraq war policy. The president says he is grateful for their suggestions.

In New York City, a former fashion writer, accused of using a firefighter's uniform to get into a woman's home and sexually assault her has pleaded not guilty. Peter Braunstein appeared in court today to answer to the charges stemming from the incident on Halloween night. Braunstein has been on a suicide watch. He'd stabbed himself in the neck when police captured him last month. The judge gave his lawyer 30 days to decide whether to pursue an insanity defense.

And a new study says cell phones could actually be ruining family life. The findings published in the "Journal of Marriage and Family," say those who consistently use a mobile phone or pager are more likely to see work invade their home life and that could lead to more tension with loved ones.

Well, a little something uplifting for you there to finish it off.

COOPER: Good to know. Thanks, Erica.

Just last week, 360 reported on bodies still being discovered in New Orleans. In many cases the remains of people's loved ones still go unidentified. But new help, direct from a war zone of all places, may let families give their departed a proper farewell. We'll bring you that story.

Also ahead, arson -- t might be a factor in some of those southern planes fires, like in Oklahoma. We'll look at a legendary arson investigation. How do experts find the guilty through the ashes?

You're watching 360.


COOPER: More than four months after Hurricane Katrina struck, more than 150 of the victim's bodies have yet to be identified. It's a story we've been closely following for weeks and months now.

Louisiana authorities have been getting some help in determining the names of these last victims from a place that many might find a little bit unusual. CNN's Sean Callebs has that side of the story.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): The secrets uncovered in the mass graves of the former Yugoslavia may unlock the final mysteries of Hurricane Katrina.

When the victims of the genocide in wars of the 1990s were dumped into giant pits, there was no reasonable hope that their identities would ever be known. But nearly 9,000 of those victims now have their names, their identities back, thanks to complex DNA bone testing technologies established by the International Commission on Missing Persons, the ICMP. And now in a McCob (ph) international twist, Louisiana officials, unable to ID scores of remains from Hurricane Katrina, are turning to those experts in the former Yugoslavia, where the science of identifying remains is more advanced than in the U.S.

DR. AMANDA SOZER, LOUISIAA STATE POLICE: You can see that we're reaching out to the best DNA resources that we have in the world to get this project done.

CALLEBS: The ICMP made its initial offer of assistance to Louisiana back in September, but frustrated state officials and anxious families had to wait nearly four months before help came. The reason, the federal government only recently freed up money for the extensive DNA tests.

Dr. Louis Cataldi is a Louisiana medical examiner.

DR. LOUIS CATALDI, STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER: Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. Am I going to put that behind me and work on what I've got to work on? Yes, I'm going to do that. I can't afford to have people fragmented. I can't afford to have people pointing fingers at each other.

CALLEBS: The ICMP, according to state officials, is just one of a number of entities worldwide doing DNA research to identify Katrina victims.

State officials insist sending DNA around the world doesn't prolong the identification process, but rather allows them to use the best technology. There are now 144 unidentified bodies in this makeshift morgue.

Researchers in Louisiana say it's important for families of people missing in the aftermath of Katrina to submit DNA samples. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings, even cousins. The vital information will be used in cross-referencing.

SOZER: We try to get DNA from as many family members -- close family members -- as we can so that we can try to put a puzzle together.

CATALDI: If I can just get a clue. If I can just get that person into the family system. You know, gee, that's a cousin of somebody. We can go back to the family and start doing our investigative work and maybe get some clues and bring that person home to their family.

CALLEBS (on camera): As if the work wasn't hard enough, the state medical examiner says there are 80 bodies in that morgue that offer no clues for identification. He says no identifying features, such as birthmarks, scars or tattoos. No jewelry found on the victims. So he says unless more people come forward and offer DNA samples, names may never be attached to those victims.

(Voice-over): But there is a hint of positive news. Last week, the state made its positive DNA match, reuniting a family with a deceased loved one.

CATALDI: It's one person, but we count our victories one person at a time here.

CALLEBS: And since then, 26 more successfully ID'd -- some through DNA, others through medical records.

But like other large-scale disasters, both man-made and natural, there is a sad reality.

CATALDI: I don't think we'll ever have an exact number. Unfortunately, people probably went out into the river and ultimately into the Gulf.

CALLEBS: There are more than 3,600 people still listed as missing. Thirty-six hundred people no DNA testing is likely to locate. People whose families are still wondering where they are.

Sean Callebs, CNN, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


COOPER: Well, let's hope that helps. The wildfires in the southern planes, Texas and Oklahoma -- investigators say some may have started at the hands of an arsonist. In one case, a teen stands accused. How can they prove it? Coming up -- we'll take you inside a fire investigation that had a bizarre outcome.

Plus, think you know how to train a dog? Well, think again. We'll hear the secrets to a dog's behavior from none other than the shhh, the dog whisperer. All that when 360 continues.


COOPER: Thanks to lighter winds and cooler temperatures, firefighters have appeared to have gotten the upper hand on dozens of wildfires burning in both Texas and Oklahoma. Investigators say some of the fires are likely the result of arson.

In Anadarko, Oklahoma, a shocking arrest; 18-year-old Justin Wilkerson, this man here, the son of a former interim fire chief, stands accused of starting at least two grass fires on Monday, one of them next to his grandmother's house.

It's not easy to prove arson. It requires a detailed and lengthy examination. One that played out in June of 2002, in Colorado, where the crime scene was massive, 137,000 acres in size. CNN Thelma Gutierrez shows us how that mystery began.


KIM JONES, SPECIAL AGENT, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: The flame leaping 30, 40 feet into the air.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was a fast-moving giant of a fire, the largest ever to rip through Colorado.

JONES: We have never seen a fire burn this hot, this fast.

GUTIERREZ: How to slow it, let alone stop it, was a massive challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) voluntary evacuation.

GUTIERREZ: Before it was over 5,000 people fled for their lives, above them, ominously dark and choked skies.

JONES: It was a mushroom cloud. What I would imagine, you know, for like a bomb.

GUTIERREZ: The heat was fierce, the walls of flame so massive, exhausted firefighters could not surround this monster.

JONES: There was just no way to fight it. There was just -- it wasn't doing anything, the water, the fire retardant was evaporating before it even hit the ground.

GUTIERREZ: The catastrophic inferno raged untamed for three weeks; 133 homes burned in an area nearly 10 time the size of Manhattan. A staggering 137,000 acres transformed into a vast and charred dead zone.

Eventually suspicions would tease their way out of the ashes. As it turned out, what really happened here at the Hayman fire was a mystery. And like any good mystery, it had clues, false leads, lies and tantalizing pieces of a forensic puzzle. And then, of course, it had an unlikely hero.

JONES: I'm so new. And yet at the same point in time this is already the biggest fire in Colorado's history.

GUTIERREZ: Special Agent Kim Jones.

JONES: I didn't even think it was a crime. I mean, when I was going there that first day, I was told it was an escaped campfire.

GUTIERREZ: Jones was a rookie Forest Service investigator, but a former police detective. So moments after she arrived, Jones was certain this no ordinary fire, but a crime scene.


COOPER: Well, the question, who is responsible for the crime? Next on 360, the rookie investigator painstakingly sifts through the ash looking for any clues that might lead to the person responsible for the largest wildfire in Colorado history.


COOPER: Before the break we were in Pike National Forest, about 40 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado. It is a ruggedly beautiful area, full of Ponderosa Pine, conifers, oak and Aspen, much of which came to be engulfed by a wildfire that burned out of control for three weeks in the spring of 2002.

The question was how did the fire start? CNN's Thelma Gutierrez continues her investigation of the so-called Hayman fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire has erupted over the last few hours.

GUTIERREZ: Early summer, three years ago, the catastrophic inferno raged untamed for three weeks. And historic drought turned Colorado into a rugged swath of dry kindling, that a mere spark could ignite.

Forest Service worker Terry Barton was on fire lookout in Pike National Forest, when she says she spotted a fire. These first moments of the fire proved so critical that investigators asked Barton to recreate them on tape.

Barton first tried to smother the flames, then realized she needed back up -- fast. The fire erupted and raged out of control.

When investigators arrived they photographed the campfire ring and searched for clues. There initial conclusion, a no-brainer, careless campers started the fire. In fact, a witness did report seeing a van leaving the area, so a fire detective, rookie Kim Jones was called in.

JONES: When I'm going there, I'm thinking why am I going to a campfire?

GUTIERREZ: Jones remembers thinking it was a waste of time, trekking six hours through the smoky haze to find and question a negligent camper?

(On camera): What is it like being back to the scene of the crime?

JONES: It's -- it's a little strange to be back because it doesn't look anything like it did then.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Now, for the first time, U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Kim Jones shares her story; unveiling forensic evidence that has been sealed and never before seen publicly. All the clues that helped her solve the mystery of the notorious Hayman fire.

JONES: It was huge. Bigger than anything I had ever saw.

GUTIERREZ: When Jones first arrived here. The very place where the fire began her instincts immediately took over. Remember, there was a drought and high temperatures.

JONES: It was a 90-degree day. And no one is going to build a fire.

GUTIERREZ: She talked to the first investigators. JONES: As I'm looking at things like, I don't see any evidence of camping. And they're like, well, maybe it was a hotdog that they cooked. I was like, well, where's the trash?

GUTIERREZ: It was common sense, sharpened by years of police work. In the '80s Jones was a cop in Missouri. Then she worked environmental crimes for the EPA. But Jones was new to the U.S. Forest Service and she had only worked a few fires. In fact, Jones had only taken her first forensic fire investigation training a year earlier.

JONES: The fire moved directly underneath this rock and went straight out.

GUTIERREZ: Jones traced the fire to a poorly build campfire ring.

(On camera): What was it about the formation of the rocks that made you think that something was very fishy here?

JONES: There is a large rock with -- it had been propped up by another rock. It looks to me like this fire has been staged to look like a campfire, but that it was an intentional fire.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Then, Jones took a closer look at the ashes and made an important find.

JONES: It's a paper match. And I can see clearly the head of it and clearly the stem. I wanted to get closer to it, and then I noticed that there was a second match, directly underneath it.

GUTIERREZ: Then, a third match.

JONES: And the three matches were stuck in the middle of this clump of grass.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But what if the person, you know, starts their fire and they throw their match off to the side?

JONES: They just couldn't have been flung there, because I found three. All within an inch and a half of each other.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): At that moment Jones says she knew she wasn't looking for a careless camper, instead she was looking for evidence to lead her to an arsonist.

(On camera): Did you start to think that maybe you were being a little bit too over zealous?

JONES: I was. I did start to think that.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Given the magnitude of the devastation, Jones also felt she needed help. And she brought in her fire instructor, Paul Steensland, a senior special agent with the Forest Service. JONES: We're going to need an expert witness and he's the expert. And with it being the biggest fire in Colorado, there is just -- I -- my skills --

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Do you think you would get picked apart?

JONES: Absolutely.

PAUL STEENSLAND, RETIRED, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Kim was fairly -- she is a very seasoned investigator, but she was very inexperienced when it came to fire investigations.

GUTIERREZ: Steensland has more than 35 years of experience and is known to be one of the best in the fire investigation business.

STEENSLAND: Questions for me, you guys?

GUTIERREZ: So good he trains many of the nation's wildfire investigators.

STEENSLAND: Watch how it comes in low and goes out high.

GUTIERREZ: Just hours after Jones called asking for help Steensland flew to Colorado. At the same time, the driver of that suspicious van, that was spotted leaving the scene, was found. But he had an alibi and was cleared. Investigators had no other leads. So Steensland and Jones returned to the scene and began a painstaking forensic investigation. Steensland mapped the path of the flames with colored flags.

STEENSLAND: Then we're going to use the physical marks that a fire leaves. And its basically the fire's footprints. Then he meticulously sifted through the ashes in the campfire ring. Jones had already removed the crucial evidence, the three matches. But photos showing their exact position when the fire ignited, was vital.

STEENSLAND: Being able to enhance that photograph and bring that original position of those matches out was fairly critical to our theory.

And there is one, you can see the head and the stem. There is the second one, the head and the stem. And there's the third one, the head and the stem.

GUTIERREZ: They theorized an arsonist struck the matches, purposely lighting the dry grass in the campfire. But who?

Remember the first forest worker to spot the fire? Terry Barton? Steensland thought she might remember key details and lead them to the arsonist.

STEENSLAND: We figured, bring her up there, as a witness and have her re-enact her actions on the day of the fire. Her story was that she had smelled smoke.

JONES: She drove up on the fire and saw it and then had to park her vehicle.

STEENSLAND: And then found the campfire burning at about 20-by- 20 feet.

GUTIERREZ: If you look there, among the trees, you can see Steensland and Jones timing Barton's every step. And in the reconstruction they stumbled across something they couldn't explain.

STEENSLAND: The story just did not make sense within the fire behavior context.

GUTIERREZ: Remember, Barton says she was first drawn to the fire by its smell. But the experts on fire behavior said, not possible.

JONES: We asked the fire behavior analysts, you know, for one: Could a person have smelled smoke, from a 20-by-20 fire? And at first they were like, no. There is just no way you could have.

GUTIERREZ: At that moment the mystery would shift once again.

STEENSLAND: And the more we talked to her, the clearer it became to us that she moved from a witness to a person of interest.

GUTIERREZ: It changed from a who-done-it to an even more perplexing question, would a forest worker, a mother of two, set off what became the worst fire in Colorado history?


COOPER: Fire investigators decided to confront their number one suspect. Next on 360 her stunning reaction. Hear what she said about the massive flames.


COOPER: By the time the Hayman fire was finally under control it had burned 137,000 acres of national forest, destroyed 133 houses, 466 other buildings and it cost the state of Colorado nearly $40 million. Not on the ledger anywhere the tears the fire caused, the anxious moments, fearful moments, the beads of sweat and the upheaval. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reveals just how investigators finally caught their arsonist.


GUTIERREZ (voice over): Fire investigator Kim Jones was on the biggest case of her career; tracking the arsonist who started Colorado's largest fire. New revelations about the case would force her to re-examine the evidence. The matches and the ashes in the campfire ring.

Soon, Agent Jones would zeroing on a fellow Forest worker, on of their own. Terry Barton spent nearly two decades preventing fires in Colorado's national forests. The married mother of two raised her daughters here. This was Barton's backyard. She was the one praised for trying to put the fire out. Now, Jones was closing in on her because her previous statements just didn't make sense. So Jones confronted her.

JONES: We don't know what happened Terry, but there is no way, you know, anyone else started this fire. You started the fire. I'm not an arsonist, you know; she's like I'm not an arsonist, I'm a firefighter.

GUTIERREZ: Barton began to buckle under pressure. What she was about to reveal to Agent Jones during a taped re-enactment ...

STEENSLAND: And, Terry, you have given some previous statements to the agents which...

GUTIERREZ: ... would shock her small mountain community.

STEENSLAND: Were those statements correct statements as far as your kind of what happened?

BARTON: No. They weren't.

GUTIERREZ: Barton said it wasn't arson, but an accident. She was in the middle of a divorce and she says heartache drove her to light the fire.

TERRY BARTON, CONVICTED ARSONIST: I was the one who started the fire and -- it was the fear and the fear kept getting bigger when the fire kept getting bigger.

STEENSLAND: She then admits that in fact she was responsible for the Hayman fire by taking a love letter from her about to be ex- husband and in a state of emotional trauma, carrying it out to the campfire ring, and burning it.

BARTON: The matches were already in my hand with the letter. I put the letter down and I lit it. One match, I kind of lit the match down there, too. And I watched it. I sat there and until it burned up.

JONES: This moment is key, because she is saying how she lit the letter and she lit it with one match. I say, are you sure it was with one match? She says no, I'm sure it was one match, and I would have just flung it. I found three matches and that to me was a key piece of evidence that disputes what she says is happening here.

BARTON: I just wanted to get rid of the letter. It was an emotional act, and it was a stupid act on my part, and then I tried to cover it up because of fear.

JONES: Now, we had an admission. She was admitting to being responsible for this fire. And that was the goal.

GUTIERREZ: But Jones says the evidence never pointed to any letter.

JONES: I never found any remnants of paper. Never.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But, to an untrained eye, it would seem plausible that the paper along with the matches would just simply burn in the campfire and that is the end of that?

JONES: Hmm, well, I mean I still had the matches. And they didn't blow away.

STEENSLAND: I was pretty confident that if there had been any paper there, you know, we would have found it.

GUTIERREZ: Jones and her mentor, Senior Special Agent Paul Steensland sent this ash from the campfire to a federal lab to screen for trace evidence of paper.

STEENSLAND: And, of course, they found not a shred of paper material in the coals. We don't believe that there was ever any love letter in this case and that her motivation was to start a small fire, certainly not the biggest fire in Colorado history, but start a small fire, suppress it, and then be recognized as a hero.

GUTIERREZ: And so, whether a heartbroken Terry Barton ever burned a letter remains a mystery. The case never went to court. Barton pled guilty to charges of arson and lying to federal authorities.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): And in the end, what does it say about the evidence that you had against her?

JONES: That it was strong.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Barton is serving a six-year sentence. She declined CNN's request for an interview. Agent Jones says in a strange way she feels sorry for Terry Barton and her daughters.

JONES: People think that, you know, they burn something and it's gone. You know? But there is evidence there. And it speaks very loudly, and it was key in this case.

GUTIERREZ: Also key, this rookie fire investigator's instincts that resurrected clues and solved a mystery out of ashes.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Lake George, Colorado.


COOPER: Not bad for a rookie fire investigator.

Coming up, unleashing the secret of dog training. The lessons from the master himself, the one, only --shhh -- dog whisper. He stops by to tell us how to make your pet behave. Coming up next.


COOPER: Sub a dog like Molly and like millions of dog owners Kelly wanted her to do something that is easy and actually getting her to do it is not. To bridge the gap many of us spend a fortune on training lessons, but maybe the problem isn't really the pet's behavior. Maybe we're to blame. That's where to blame. That is what Cesar Millan says; he's the "Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel, and he's here to help.


COOPER (voice over): Cesar Millan calls himself a dog whisperer. He spent the last 20 years rehabilitating aggressive, scared, compulsive and even jealous dogs.

The key to his success? Understand the dogs, he says, but train the owners.

CESAR MILLAN, "DOG WHISPERER": Head up, that's right. Don't look at the floor, don't look at the dog. That's right.

COOPER: Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, even Oprah, have been taught by Cesar to treat their dogs like, well, like dogs.

MILLAN: I love to give affection to a dog, but in the case of Cinnamon, Sunny and Boo, the owners gave affection at the wrong time, which had nurtured the unwanted behavior. We have to give affection at the right time, when their mind is balanced.

COOPER: Cesar uses pack behavior to tame wayward dogs and even uses his own pack of star pupils as teaching assistants. It is all a question of dominance, he says.

MILLAN: Guilt is weakness in the animal world. They don't care. They just know that you are going to a down state of mind, so somebody has to run the show. They follow mental pack leader.


MILLAN: They follow this, they don't follow this.


MILLAN: They don't follow this.


MILLAN: I love you so much. I want you to know that I feel bad that I only walk with you twice a week. They don't care.

COOPER: Just make sure your dog knows who the leader of the pack really is.




MILLAN: That is not powerful at all.


MILLAN: Not powerful at all. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shh, no!

MILLAN: That's the power that I'm talking about.


COOPER: Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan stopped by a short time ago to tell us what it takes to train dogs.


COOPER (on camera): In your program you help rehabilitate dogs with really serious problems, often by focusing more on their owners. Is it usually a people problem?

MILLAN: Absolutely. What I do is I rehabilitate dogs and I train people. Most of the time, what people do -- or my clients -- what my clients do is they give affection, affection, affection. So what I suggest for them to do is exercise, discipline, affection. This way you fulfill everything about the dog.

COOPER: There is such a thing as too much affection with a dog?

MILLAN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it is too much of anything, you know? So, you can do too much exercise, you can do too much discipline. But everything has to be balanced.

COOPER: So the first one is --

MILLAN: Exercise.

COOPER: Exercise.

MILLAN: Which is the body.

COOPER: Right.

MILLAN: Then the mind, discipline. And the last is affection.

COOPER: And dogs are pack animals and you really stress that.

MILLAN: That's true.

COOPER: That sort of pack behavior. What is understanding pack behavior, how does that impact how you treat your dog?

MILLAN: Because when you play the emotional role, you automatically become a follower. They don't follow emotional leader, or spiritual leader. They follow dominant leader. So, it is important for us to empower ourselves with that position. The leader position.

COOPER: So you -- your T-shirt says pack leader.

MILLAN: Pack leader.

COOPER: The important -- you want to tell the dog that you are in fact the leader of the pack?

MILLAN: It is important that we as the owners of the house, or you know, the human beings who brought these animals into society, that we tell them what to do.

COOPER: And how do you do that?

MILLAN: Well, the most important part is the walk. See the walk gives you access to 90 percent of the connection between humans and dogs. So if you learn to walk a dog properly, you accomplish leadership.

COOPER: You mean actually physically walking the dog properly?

MILLAN: The dog next to you or behind, never in front of you.

COOPER: Oh, really?

MILLAN: Which, you know, most of the time people walk dogs in front.

COOPER: Right.

MILLAN: But if you study a pack of dogs, the pack leader is always in front, never in the back.

COOPER: So what are the most common mistakes people make with their dog?

MILLAN: The most common mistake is they humanize the dog. They don't master the walk. And they don't set rules, boundaries, limitations right away, from day one.

COOPER: Is there such a thing as a bad breed? I mean, you know, you hear these horror stories about pit bulls, or other kinds of dogs. Are there bad dogs?

MILLAN: You know, I'm glad you brought that up, because if you remember, in the "Little Rascals", there was a pit bull in there?

COOPER: Right, I know. I love that dog.

MILLAN: Right. So, a pit bull become a actor? Yes, but somebody has to be behind him to send him to a positive path. So, all these dogs that you hear, (INAUDIBLE), the Rotweilers, the German shepherds. They have attacked somebody, it is because they don't have exercise, discipline on a daily basis. So they become frustrated from this style of life.

COOPER: When you're trying to train your dog, I mean there are moments when you just want to throw up your hands, because it seems like it is endless, what is your advice to people who are struggling trying to get their dog in line.

MILLAN: It is probably the strategy that they are using that is not allowing the dog to understand what they want. COOPER: Keep it simple?

MILLAN: Keep it -- you know, Mother Nature is simple. If you watch the show, you see how simple it is for me to transform the mind of a dog. It is hard for me to convince the human to follow exercise, discipline, affection.

COOPER: Did you always communicate with dogs? I mean did you always have a bond with dogs.

MILLAN: Yeah, now that I go back in time, I say, yeah, of course. I always had that ability to understand the fulfillment. I grew up on a farm. So my grandfather always said, never work against Mother Nature. And what that means to me is exercise, discipline, affection.

COOPER: I appreciate you coming in. Thanks.

MILLAN: Thanks.

COOPER: It was nice to meet you.



COOPER: And the new season of the "Dog Whisperer" starts this Friday night on the National Geographic Channel.

That's it for us on 360. Thanks very much for watching. We'll be back tomorrow, 10 o'clock Eastern Time. Hope you join us for that. Larry King is coming up next.


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