Residents escape burning Centennial apartment building with sheets and blankets

Eight injured; one victim in critical condition

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Neighbors rushed to rescue people trapped in a burning apartment in Centennial early Monday morning, throwing sheets and blankets up to residents so they could rappel to safety.

"I yelled for some people to grab blankets. We tied a bunch of them together, and I threw them up," explained neighbor Byran Schoff. "The dad, I think, tied them off to the sliding glass door and we held the bottom tight and they started rappelling down and we caught them as they got down."

A neighbor backed a pickup truck up to the burning building and residents threw mattresses in the bed of the truck to help people who wanted to jump.

The fire broke out in building G of the Copper Terrace Apartments around 1 a.m. Monday. The complex is on south Dayton Street near Arapahoe Road.

"I heard a loud boom, like a popping sound and looked out of the curtains from the balcony and saw just lights, like big flickering lights,  all over the side of the building. So I figured there must be a fire or something. So I came out the side and saw ... just fire, crazy, just roaring out the front of (the building)," said resident Spencer Hall.
 
"I got hit with a bunch of heat and flames," one woman said. "It singed my eyelashes and part of my hair. I burnt my hand trying to close the door."
 
Rescuers said they were glad to help others.
 
"It's great that we could all, just that quickly, all come together to do something to help," Schoff said.

Eight people were injured in the fire, one of them is in critical condition.

At least four units in the building were severely damaged or destroyed, according to a South Metro Fire Rescue official.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but the undersheriff says arson is being considered as a strong possibility. The fire began in a stairwell.

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