Colorado Blast Injures Five

DENVER -- An explosion and fire displaced 22 people and injured five people at a Littleton apartment complex Friday night. Firefighters said the fire started in a second floor apartment at the Gallup House Apartments...


DENVER --

An explosion and fire displaced 22 people and injured five people at a Littleton apartment complex Friday night.

Firefighters said the fire started in a second floor apartment at the Gallup House Apartments near Broadway and Littleton Boulevard at about 11:40 p.m.

Witnesses said they heard a large explosion and saw a huge fireball rise from the building.

"My daughter, myself, and a bunch of other people were standing up on the balcony and witnessed it and you could feel it almost before you could hear it," said Howard Dwight, who lives in the apartment building next door.

"It was just an inferno with fire everywhere," said neighbor Terese Kajzer. She lives right below. Two of her windows shattered as the explosion happened.

Initial reports indicated the explosion was caused by a liquid oxygen tank.

Three Littleton police officers were the first to arrive at the scene and rushed into the burning building

"He was burned pretty badly. The Littleton Police Department actually went in and pulled him out while there were flames blowing out of the windows. That was pretty impressive," said Dwight.

The man was taken to Swedish Medical Center and then flown to University Hospital in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation. The three officers and another resident were also treated for smoke inhalation.

Fire crews called a second alarm due to the size of the fire and the proximity of surrounding buildings. Sixty-five firefighters responded.

Littleton Fire said 22 residents had to be evacuated, which was not an easy task.

"We were almost running over each other trying to get down the stairs," said Dwight. "There are several residents who are blind, there's hearing impaired and elderly people as well," said Dwight.

One resident, who has lived in the building for 20 years, told 7NEWS this was the first fire she had experienced there.

"Thank goodness for the brick buildings and the cement here, that it allowed so many people to be in a safe place," said resident Patty Morris.

Residents of seven units were displaced because of fire and smoke damage to their apartments.

Littleton Fire spokesman Doug Ireland said the cost of damage is estimated around $300,000.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but investigators have ruled out electrical and mechanical causes, according to Ireland.

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