AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – One person has died in a devastating fire at the Heather Gardens retirement community in Aurora. The fire started Friday night on East Linvale Place.
Saturday afternoon, Heather Gardens Announced announced the victim’s identity as Carol Ross. The association also told residents they will have board members help answer questions.
“This is one of the most serious incidents ever to occur in Heather Gardens. To help ensure that accurate information is provided to all residents, members of the Board have volunteered for shifts at the Clubhouse to help staff answer telephone calls and talk to residents with questions. Additional information will be made available as it becomes known.”
“Our hearts go out to the many residents who are impacted by this tragedy and our department offers our deepest condolences to the family of the victim on this very sad day,” said Aurora Fire Chief Fernando Gray, Sr. “We will continue to investigate the cause of this incident.”
Aurora Fire Rescue officials say a canine search team from Colorado Task Force One found Ross’ body in one of the patio home units.
The fire burned homes after a gas explosion which injured one firefighter and one civilian, both of which were taken to the hospital. The firefighter has since been released. Their injuries are reportedly not life threatening.
Aurora Fire Lt. Laure Bridges said that the fire started in what is called a “patio home” or “paired home” and that it was a “gas-fed fire.”
Fire officials say they are aware of some construction happening near where the fire occurred but cannot confirm the cause of the gas leak.
Xcel Energy offered this statement Saturday morning:
“Our thoughts are with the residents impacted by this incident, and we continue to coordinate with Aurora Fire and Heather Gardens on this event. We want our customers to know that the event on Wednesday, which has been reported, is not related to the event last night, other than both were caused by non-Xcel Energy contractors working for a third party. The Wednesday incident occurred in a different section of the same neighborhood and was repaired the same day. Last night we responded to a suspected leak in approximately 30 minutes. Upon arrival, we were working with local the local fire department to secure the area and were in the process of addressing the leak when the explosion occurred.
As of this morning, all safety checks have been performed in the area, and we are currently working to restore natural gas service to about 230 residents this afternoon. Public safety is a top priority for us, we strongly encourage all customers who smell natural gas to immediately leave the premise and call 911, as well as Xcel Energy at 800-895-2999. Customers are also reminded to call 811 to locate underground services before doing any excavation work.”
What caused the fire is still being investigated.
Victim support services will be offered to family members. The American Red Cross is also helping victims.
Residents who were displaced due to the fire can call (303) 751-1811 to check if they are able to return home.
“As a response to the explosion, Xcel energy shut off power to much of Heather Gardens for a period of time last night. As of this writing, all of CP-IV and Building 217 remain without gas but efforts are being made to restore gas as quickly as possible. Xcel staff are examining each building in CP-IV and notifying HG security when service has been restored,” Heather Gardens Association said in their statement. “The Public Utilities Commission has requested that all Comcast work on installation of fiber optic cables be suspended until further notice. That request has been honored.”