ALLENSPARK, Colo. (CBS4) – The fire is out at the St. Malo and now the investigation phase is under way.
Officials say the fire on Monday at the Catholic conference center in northwestern Boulder County caused more than $1M in damage.
Strong winds on Saturday knocked out electricity, forcing all guests to depart. Six employees who remained started a fire to keep warm. Investigators are now looking into whether that fire may have triggered the blaze somehow.
“The power has been out up here for 2 days. So the people that were staying here were using other ways for heating. I know they were using the fireplace inside the atrium area,” Boulder Sheriff’s spokesman Rick Brough said.
Approximately 70 firefighters from 14 different districts battled the fire, which started just before 8 a.m. Lack of water because of the remote location delayed the attack, and the strong winds made things difficult at times for firefighters.
After the fire broke out the employees all got out safely from the building.
The center’s main building was heavily damaged, but the historic chapel on the grounds was untouched. Pope John Paul II visited the church as part of his trip to Colorado for World Youth Day in 1993.
One employee watching the fire Monday from a safe distance said it was “like being pierced right through the heart.”
“We are going to hold onto that hope that God will help us to rebuild and move forward and open this up again,” said Sharon Arms, who works at the front desk of the center.
Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are involved in the investigation into the cause of the fire.