Monday, January 14, 2008

Firefighters Battle Blaze at Construction Site

DENVER (Manny Gonzales / Denver Post).- Flames gushed from the top floor of a large residential building under construction in unincorporated Arapahoe County on Sunday, creating a huge plume of smoke that could be seen for miles.

Flames shot more than 50 feet into the air, wowing dozens of onlookers, some who came with cameras in hand. Damage was estimated at $1 million.

No one was reported injured. The 32-unit, six-story building was one of at least six buildings that make up the Ballantyne Apartments, a sprawling complex expected to open soon at 10001 E. Dry Creek Road, said Andy Lyon, spokesman for South Metro Fire and Rescue.

No cause had been determined, but there were construction workers inside the building who were installing drywall when the fire broke out, Lyon said. The fire was reported just after 5 p.m., and was finally under control by 8:30 p.m.

It took 50 firefighters from area fire departments more than two hours before the flames on the roof of the building died down, he said.

"The chief declared it a defensive fire pretty early on, and we didn't want to put firefighters inside the building like this because parts of it can collapse," Lyon said.

Laura Hoeppner and her husband, Kevin Singel, of Centennial said they could smell the smoke from their home more than a mile away, on the other side of Interstate 25.

"I'm glad there were no people living here yet and that no one got hurt," Hoeppner said.

Marilynn Hill, an insurance adjuster who came with her daughter to marvel at the fire, said it appeared the building would need to be torn down. "I'm sure it'll be a total loss," she said.