'Collapse Is Imminent' For Treatment Facility That Caught Fire

By Howard Nathan

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A crane to remove debris was brought to the site of a possibly fatal fire Monday, and search dogs being used to search for a possible victim have not had any success.

The fire gutted a substance abuse and treatment facility on Saturday morning near 64th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

John Rutter, a therapist who’s been missing since this fire erupted, is currently unaccounted for.

A client of his is holding out hope.

“Oh he’s was … is a is a terrific guy,” said Connie Orr, a client of Rutter’s. “He just makes you feel better about yourself.”

Dr. Joyce Smith, the director of Creative Treatment Options and Rutter’s boss, told CBS4 she is not confident Rutter survived the fire. Smith said Rutter was “beloved by everybody.”

Firefighters are now concerned the building might collapse.

“It’s very precarious. A collapse is imminent due to that instability. We’ve got to balance that safety-risk situation,” said Deanna Harrington, Arvada fire’s deputy fire marshal.

A therapist told CBS4 there was a class change right about the time the fire erupted — 10 a.m. — with 50 to 70 people leaving the building, mostly on their own.

That therapist also said there were no lights and no alarms that he heard, and he experienced blackout conditions inside the building within 20 seconds.

Harrington noted that “all fires … are fast-moving fires” and also explained what’s burning is what’s deadly.

“It’s very easy for people in that situation to be disoriented, to be overcome by smoke. That smoke is filled with contaminants and carbon monoxide,” Harrington said.

Howard Nathan is a veteran newsman. Decades later, he still enjoys writing a clever sentence, asking the tough question and talking to people in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Howard and read his bio.


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