AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – At about 11 p.m. Monday when flames engulfed the Fitz Apartments in Aurora, neighbor Carl Allen sprang into action.
“People were hanging out the window. There was black smoke, fire and flames were shooting out,” he said.
Fire crews hadn’t arrived at the scene yet of the fire that killed two and sent 10 to the hospital, and he and three friends grabbed a white canopy and ordered neighbors on the third and fourth floors who were trapped to jump.
He convinced a man to drop his 4-year-old daughter.
“She was dangling out the window, the father didn’t want to let her go. We guaranteed that she would be okay. (We said) ‘Just let her go,’ ” Allen said.
Others followed suit.
“Four people jumped on the tarp,” he said.
“So you probably saved their lives, then?” CBS4 reporter Tom Mustin asked Allen during their interview.
“Yes we did,” Allen said. “And it was just based on instinct and I’m just glad that we could help.”
Autopsy results are expected to be released Tuesday for two people killed in the fire. Friends say the two people who died were a Laotian couple in their 60s.
Several residents reported seeing a suspicious man running from the apartments, located near 17th and Peoria. Aurora fire is investigating those reports.
“We have received some reports that a person with a gas can was seen in the area,” Aurora Fire Department spokesman Capt. Allen Robnett said.
Maintenance manager Steve Southard knew the victims and says he has little doubt an arsonist caused the fire.
“You’re pretty sure this fire was intentionally set?” CBS4 reporter Tom Mustin asked Southard.
“Absolutely,” Southard said. “With me being a maintenance tech … fire doesn’t start in hallways like that without an accelerant.”
Southard said residents will be very angry if the blaze was in fact set by an arsonist.
“It sickens me that someone could have such a disregard for human life,” he said.
The Fitz apartment building is located about half a block away from the apartment where mass shooting suspect James Holmes lived. Investigators say there is no connection between the fire and the Holmes case.