Firefighter Injured in Colo. Meatpacking Plant Fire

Dec. 31--A raging blaze erupted late Sunday in the old Alpha Beta meatpacking plant near the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo.

The first call for the fire came at about 10:40 p.m. Sunday.

Flames licked high into the sky from the upper floors of the building, located at 303 S. Santa Fe Ave., and smoke filled the surrounding area.

From Interstate 25, looking down at the scene, a blanket of smoke filled the top of the building as a firefighter sprayed water from a fully extended ladder.

A call for an injured firefighter was broadcast over scanner traffic at 11:12 p.m. At 11:21 p.m., American Medical Response reported it was transporting the firefighter to Parkview Medical Center, but the nature of the injuries was not disclosed.

Gary Michelli, investigator with the Pueblo Fire Department, at 11:15 p.m. said he had no information to announce regarding the fire at that time.

Dozens of emergency vehicles, including firetrucks and police cruisers, crowded the area and lit up the night with flashing lights and flood lights.

Pueblo police blocked off traffic on Santa Fe Avenue from Alan Hamel Avenue at the Riverwalk north to Ilex Street.

A Pueblo police officer stationed at Ilex said no one was being allowed any closer to the fire due to the amount of smoke in the air in addition to possible hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

In March 2011, a bank filed for foreclosure on the Alpha Beta meatpacking plant.

In 2006, a group of Fort Collins developers bought the building with plans to remodel it into high-end condominiums and retail stores.

Copyright 2012 - The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.