WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – Candles burned at a Buddhist temple in Westminster on Wednesday in tribute to the lives of two members of Colorado’s Laotian community who were killed in an apartment fire on Monday night.
The fire in Aurora killed Dom Chanhthavongsa, 59, and Bounhieng Thammavongsa, 64, and sent 10 others to the hospital. Chanhthavongsa and Thammavongsa, both originally from Laos, lived on the fourth floor of the Fitz Apartments, located near 17th and Peoria. Both died of smoke inhalation.
The couple was well known in their native community. Thammavongsa was a longtime janitor for Aurora Public Schools. He and Chanhthavongsa were like parents to a man named P.C. Chanthavong.
“When I heard the news it was as if my own relatives had just passed away,” Chanthavong told CBS4.
Several residents at the apartments reported seeing a bald man running through the hallways emptying out a canister of gasoline. Aurora fire is investigating those reports and are trying to determine if a security camera on the building has any helpful surveillance footage.
“It is crazy that people would do something like that and so, yes, the community is angry,” Chanthavong said.
If you would like to help pay for the funeral ceremony for Dom Chanhthavongsa and Bounhieng Thammavongsa, donations can be sent through: The Laotian Buddhist Temple, 10685 Dover Street, Westminster, CO, 80021.