• Perkins
  • 20190307-153347-463643000a

Denver fire officials have arrested the former handyman of a building destroyed in August by a fire and charged him with first-degree arson and first-degree attempted murder in connection with the incident.

Todd Perkins, 56, of Denver was arrested Feb. 11, according to a Denver Fire Department news release.

The preliminary hearing for Perkins is set on March 13 at 9:30 a.m. He is being held at the Downtown Detention Center with bond set at $500,000.

On Aug. 14, an explosion rocked Santa Fe Drive near East Fourth Avenue. Part of a seven-unit apartment building on the west side of Santa Fe Drive had collapsed, shooting wood and debris around neighboring blocks.

The explosion and subsequent fire started at 368 N. Santa Fe Drive, which is one of the units inside the building, according to the release. Each unit in the building had its own address.

After the explosion, two people, including Perkins, were sent to Denver Health to be treated for injuries. Six others were treated by paramedics on the scene, the release said.

During its investigation, the fire department found gasoline containers, lighters and a box of matches inside the unit at 368 N. Santa Fe Drive. Natural gas lines to the water heater, furnace and stove had been disconnected with their valves fully open, which allowed gas to seep into the unit, the release said.

During interviews with tenants after the incident, DFD investigators determined that Perkins had been fired by the building owner before the explosion. He allegedly would climb on the roof to look at tenants through skylights, the release said. He lived in a shed near the southeast corner of the property and knew the schedules of the tenants living in the building.

The day before the explosion, the owner of the building erected a fence around the building to keep Perkins off the property, the release said.

The explosion knocked Perkins through the front wall to the outside of the building and under a pile of rubble. Witnesses saw him get up and walk in the direction of his residence. Perkins said he was in the basement of the unit at the time of the explosion, the release said.

Because he knew which tenants were in the building at the time, Denver Fire said in the release it believes Perkins caused the explosion with the intent to harm others.

Denver Fire “believes that Todd Perkins entered the basement of this apartment unit on Aug. 14, 2018, without permission, with the intent to cause an explosion,” the release said. “Mr. Perkins knew that an explosion event of this magnitude would result in devastating loss of life and property.”

For more information on the initial explosion, go to http://washparkprofile.com/stories/it-was-just-chaos,268915?