AURORA | Aurora fire officials are investigating a Monday apartment blaze that left two dead and 25 people injured as a possible arson, fire officials said.
Aurora fire Capt. Al Robnett said investigators received a report of someone fleeing the scene with a gas can and are looking into it.
But, Robnett said, investigators have not yet determined how the fire at the Fitz Apartments near East 17th Avenue and Peoria Street started or where it started.
When fire crews arrived at the four-story building across Peoria from the Anschutz Medical Campus, they found a building already engulfed in flames with some residents hanging from their windows to escape the flames, Robnett said.
Crews immediately started fighting the flames while others used ladders to rescue several people from their windows.
In all, 25 people were in hurt, Robnett said, and 14 were rushed to area hospitals. Two people died from their injuries.
Robnett said the two people who died were on the building’s fourth floor. It’s not clear yet whether the victims were adults or children, he said.
Autopsies for the two people who died have not yet been scheduled, according to the Adams County coroner’s office.
No firefighters were injured, Robnett said, and 16 fire department vehicles responded to the blaze.
The Red Cross Mile High Chapter set up a shelter for the building’s residents at nearby Paris Elementary School. The blaze forced the evacuation of not only 24 units in the building that burned, but also 22 in an adjacent building, the Red Cross said.
Tuesday evening, the red brick building was fenced off as investigators gathered evidence. Several windows were broken out and brick walls were stained black with smoke.
Several police officers were in the area, keeping people from entering the building.
The burned building and the adjacent building are both outfitted with surveillance cameras outside, as are several businesses in the area.
Robnett said damage is extensive throughout the building, but it’s not clear if the building will be a total loss. Because the structure is brick, the owners may be able to restore some of it, he said.