Denver High-Rise Blaze Forces Evacuations

A resident reported hearing what sounded like an explosion just before flames blew into his apartment.


An apartment on the fourth floor of a Denver high-rise caught fire Wednesday morning, forcing all residents to evacuate.

Firefighters responded quickly to the 8 a.m. call and were able to contain the fire to Unit No. 404 in the Coachman Apartments, located at 1044 Downing St.

The man living inside the burned-out apartment told fire investigators that he heard what sounded like an explosion on his patio just before the fire blew from his balcony into his apartment.

That victim and two other residents were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, mainly smoke inhalation, firefighters said.

Firefighters used their ladder trucks to evacuate other residents who live just above the fire. Neighbors and firefighters also went door-to-door throughout the 11-story building to get everybody out.

"They came and knocked on my bedroom and woke me up and was like, 'Hey look at this!' And we looked right outside of my roommate's bedroom window and there was just a huge fire engulfing the patio," said resident Sarah Heinrichs.

Residents said they didn't react immediately to the fire alarm because the complex has had a lot of false alarms over the past couple of weeks, 7NEWS reported. Some residents thought it was a fire drill until they noticed the scene was a bit more chaotic.

"People were shouting and knocking on the door and running down. That's when we dressed the baby up and we ran down. And there was smoke all over in the passage and in the stairway," said resident Jesse Amor.

"We just grabbed everything we could and took off," said resident Desiree Biros.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Investigators believe the fire started on or near the balcony of the unit, which is located in the back of the building.

Denver firefighters said that their efforts were a "textbook" example of how to quickly extinguish a fire and contain it to one unit.

Fire units were on the scene about three minutes after the first call. Firefighters said it was fortunate that many residents were at work at the time so there were no problems evacuating the building.

"The fire department was just great. They stopped this thing from spreading," said the apartment manager, Joe Carpenter.

Other than the one charred apartment, several other apartments had smoke damage and will need to remain evacuated. Firefighters said those units suffered heavier damage because when the residents evacuated, they left their front doors open.