LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters in Longmont are on scene of a fire that destroyed a 115-year-old mortuary.
The fire broke out before dawn on Tuesday at Howe Mortuary, located at 439 Coffman Street. It’s been a family business for four generations.
“I seen a huge ball of fire go up and I said, ‘Oh, my God this is a fire!'” said Longmont resident Bob Lugan.
Seven bodies set for funerals were lost in the fire. Only one body was removed from the facility without being damaged.
A Boulder Fire Rescue employee was seen running up to the burned building and tried to get inside. He had a close family member whose body was inside the building being prepared for funeral services.
The man was overcome with grief and it took five firefighters to pull him away from the building.
“He has a family member there that’s all I can say. He is obviously distraught and concerned about his family member. We’ve got him support, right now he’s meeting with people. This is very hard on the families who have deceased at the mortuary right now,” said Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur.
One deceased that was in a casket that had a funeral today and they were able to get that person out of the building.”
No one was injured, and there was no immediate word on what caused it. Fire crews say it may have started in the cremation area of the mortuary.
“It appears it started near the northwest corner of the building,” said Satur.
Chemicals for the mortuary business stored inside the building re-ignited the fire which made it difficult to get under control. The roof collapsed which made the building a total loss.
“As you can see it was a very difficult fire and the building appears to be a complete loss,” said Satur.
Howe Mortuary has been in the community since 1884 and has become a landmark in Longmont.
“It’s sad to see it go down like that because it’s a landmark,” said Lugan.