DENVER (CBS4) – A fire broke out Monday morning in a Denver apartment building and sent people scrambling out of their homes.
The fire happened at a building at 9th and Downing at approximately 2 a.m. and so far there’s no word on what caused it. The apartment houses mostly elderly and special needs residents, who watched from a bus as firefighters took care of the blaze before daybreak.
About 50 people were evacuated. Authorities told CBS4 at least three people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but all are expected to be okay. At least two cats were killed in the fire.
“As soon as I opened the door, I knew that something was wrong,” a resident said.
“I heard the buzzer go off and I reached and I opened the front door and that’s when all the smoke came into my house,” resident Mario Tafoya said.
“We didn’t think it was that serious until all these fire trucks and units and everything showed up, and they were saying that they saw fire coming out of one of the windows in the back,” resident Dano Dickinson said.
Firefighters say they saw flames shooting out of a second story apartment. It would prove to be just one of many challenges.
“The challenge here was the unit was filled with smoke, but we also had elderly and handicapped people in the unit. Firefighters needed to extinguish the fire and also try to evacuate the people at the same time,” Mark Watson with the Denver Fire Department said.
Tafoya lives above where the fire started. He says he’s grateful nobody was seriously hurt in what could have been a deadly situation.
“Half my house is burned up … but as long as I’m here, that’s okay,” Tafoya said.
Residents were allowed back into the apartments for a short time a few hours after the fire was extinguished.
The American Red Cross has a shelter in place at the Denver Center for International Studies for about 30 to 40 evacuees. That’s at 574 W. 6th Avenue.
Red Cross spokeswoman Patricia Billinger said if residents aren’t able to return to their homes before evening then they will work with hotels to find rooms for the residents.