Blaze at Denver Construction Site Kills One Person, Another Still Missing

The three-alarm blaze destroyed the Emerson Place Apartments under construction on East 18th Avenue in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood.

Image courtesy of Denver Fire Dept.

One person is dead and another missing after a three-alarm fire erupted at a construction site near downtown Denver on Wednesday. The mid-day fire, which destroyed a partially completed apartment building and burned hot enough to damage at least 40 cars in the area, forced construction workers to leap to safety from second and third floors. Some were hurt when they jumped; others injured trying to catch them.

Nearly 50 construction workers were on site when the fire broke out. Some tried to extinguish the blaze themselves but were unsuccessful.

Fire officials have not identified the person killed, but Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley said in an afternoon news conference that a body was found in the debris. The search for a second person is ongoing, he said. The cause of the fire is under investigation. People in the area reported hearing at least two loud explosions several seconds apart as the blaze started.

Pixley said that the fire spread quickly because of exposed materials on the jobsite. “The building had nothing to protect the wood,” he told reporters at the scene. He noted that officials have no immediate indication of any deviations from city building codes or permitting violations at the site. A progress inspection of the electrical system, conducted earlier in the week, revealed no problems with it.

The fire occurred at the Emerson Place Apartments on East 18th Avenue in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood, near the city’s hospital district. The five-story, 84-unit complex, estimated construction cost of $15 million, featured all studio apartments. The developer is Allante Properties, Greenwood Village, Colo., and the contractor is Vertix Builders, Frederick, Colo. Neither company could be reached for comment.

The project was scheduled for completion this summer.

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