A fire in an empty building under construction in downtown Littleton last night left several residents of a neighboring complex displaced. Authorities said no one was injured in the fire.
South Metro Fire Rescue was dispatched at 12:17 a.m. on Nov. 17 in response to several 911 calls reporting a three-story building engulfed in flames on the northeast corner of Main Street and South Prince Street.
The fire was a second alarm fire, meaning it required double the amount of resources and personnel that are called to a regular fire, South Metro Fire Rescue spokesperson Eric Hurst said.
Littleton police officers on the scene evacuated the residential building next to the fire, an apartment complex at 5464 S. Prince St.
The apartment building sustained external damage, but firefighters were successful in stopping the fire from spreading inside, Hurst said.
The six apartment units closest to the fire sustained water damage and their occupants will be displaced until dewatering and repairs are made, the department wrote in a post on Facebook.
Fire response and damage
Firefighters used water hoses to control the flames, attacking the fire from above and from the ground.
At the peak of the fire, there were about 60 firefighters responding, Hurst said.
At around 2:20 a.m., the department declared the fire under control.
Firefighters did not enter the structure due to its potential to collapse. Instead, they used thermal imaging drones to locate and extinguish hot spots, Hurst said.
The building, which seemed to be constructed of wood and metal framing, sustained major damage, Hurst said.
“There’s one brick wall, pretty significant in size, that is not stable and is at risk of collapsing,” he said. “Probably 50% of the structure’s wood was consumed in the fire.”
He said that only some metal framing is left standing. If the building had been entirely constructed of wood, it likely would have completely collapsed and burned, he said.
At around 4 a.m., the department gave permission to the building management team for the apartment complex next door to work to get their residents back in the building. The management team started working to secure doors that had been broken down before residents could return.
Residents who live in the water-damaged apartments will likely be displaced until their units are repaired, Hurst said.
West Metro Fire Rescue assisted in response to the scene of the fire.
American Red Cross was also on scene to assist displaced residents.
The Littleton Police Department was used as a temporary shelter to keep people warm and safe until their building could be reoccupied.
Officials returned to the scene of the fire this morning to search debris for potential unknown victims and evidence related to the cause of the fire.
Hurst said investigators specifically wanted to make sure no potential individuals were caught in the fire while using the building as shelter, which sometimes happens in vacant buildings during colder months.
After searching the scene, officials found no evidence of victims and said it is likely the cause of the fire will be undetermined.
“Unless there’s new information that comes forward … the fire will remain an undetermined cause status,” Hurst said. “(Investigators have) reviewed all of the available evidence that they can and, at this point, they’ve not been able to determine a cause.”
Hurst said the fire marshal’s office did not say the fire was suspicious, so it is equally as likely that it was an accident as a crime.
Hurst said if anyone was in the area and saw something fire investigators should know, they should reach out to South Metro Fire Rescue at (720) 989-2000.
The fire is a good reminder for people to have a fire safety and evacuation plan, Hurst said.
People who want help developing a plan can look on the fire department’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also advised people to sign up for ArapAlert, a system that sends emergency phone notifications from first responders to people in affected areas.
Individuals can sign up for ArapAlert at https://ace911.colorado.gov/arapalert.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the six units with water damage are in the same building that has external fire damage.