AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators have a person of interest in a deadly apartment fire in Aurora where two people were killed. They believe the fire was intentionally set.
“After a thorough investigation, the Aurora Fire Investigations Bureau has concluded that the apartment fire that occurred Aug. 6 at 1747 Peoria St. was intentionally ignited,” officials wrote in a prepared statement. “Further investigation will continue.”
A tenant of the building next door has been interviewed by police and is considered a person of interest. Residents in the building are being asked for information about their dealings with the man who lived in The Fitz apartment complex for two years.
Neighbors are upset that the fire, which also sent 15 to the hospital, looks like the work of an arsonist.
“We are not safe at all, it is scary,” said one resident.
The fire happened Monday night at the complex near 17th and Peoria, and some witnesses told authorities they saw a man pouring gas in and outside the apartments.
Another witness told CBS4 investigators found a gas can in a nearby dumpster.
When fire crews arrived on scene at about 11 p.m. officials say flames were shooting through the roof and coming mainly from a stairwell area.
“It was as intense as it gets,” said Aurora Fire Capt. Allen Robnett. “It was an offensive fire attack by the fire crews at the same time doing numerous fire rescues.”
A couple from Laos — Dom Chanhthavongsa, 59, and Bounhieng Thammavongsa, 64 — died of smoke inhalation in the fire. Survivors jumped from windows, some as high as four floors up. A total of 27 people were hurt.
“People were hanging by the window, black smoke, fire, flames were shooting out and we had the people jump down and we saved about four or five people,” said neighbor Carl Allen.
“There is extensive damage to the interior and the common areas and the hallways and stairways,” Robnett said.
There was no sprinkler system in the complex, which is currently uninhabitable.
The suspect is not in custody and is hospitalized. The reason behind his hospitalization has not been released.