By Melissa Garcia

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman who escaped from a burning apartment in Lakewood has died.

(credit: CBS)

The fire broke out shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday at the Ranch at Bear Creek apartments on South Field Street, near Hampden Avenue just west of Wadsworth Boulevard.

The fire displaced 15 residents in eight units.

One unit was destroyed and several surrounding units were damaged by smoke and water.

(credit: CBS)

A pile of debris sat outside the building Saturday afternoon as restoration crews worked to clean up.

“You never expect to wake up and see a fire across the street from where you live,” said one resident, who lives in a nearby building within the complex. “So, it definitely was kind of a shock this morning.”

“When I came out, I saw billows of smoke coming from the apartment,” said Gabriel Andrade, who also lives in the complex.

The woman who lived inside the burning unit was able to escape with the help of a neighbor. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital in critical condition but she died later in the day.

(credit: CBS)

“We were able to get the building evacuated fairly quickly,” said Steve Aseltine, a district Chief at West Metro Fire Rescue.

All 15 residents in the eight evacuated units were covered by renters insurance, which is required by the complex.

(credit: CBS)

“Many times we go to fires, and folks don’t have insurance,” Aseltine said. “So they really lose all of their belongings and what’s important to them. And in this case, many of those folks were able to start that road to recovery much more quickly.”

Parents who live at the apartments are using the disaster as a teachable moment for their kids.

“I let (my child) know that’s why we want to keep things turned off, keep things unplugged. Because, you just never know what could happen,” Andrade said.

The fire’s cause was under investigation.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to


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