'Suspicious' fires destroy 12 vehicles near Colorado Christian University; Arson team investigating

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - West Metro firefighters are investigating four "highly suspicious" fires that destroyed a dozen vehicles early Tuesday near Colorado Christian University in Lakewood.

"We're not calling it arson just yet, but it is highly suspicious," said West Metro Fire Deputy Chief Bruce Kral.

"Just having them in close proximity, at the same time, they're being investigated as suspicious," he added. "We'll try to get as much evidence from each incident that we can to see if there's any, anything that we can lead to a suspect."

The first fire was reported at 4:22 a.m. on West Alaska Place, near Carr Street.

West Metro Fire said that fire started with a vehicle, then spread to a home. The home has been declared uninhabitable.

Forty-nine minutes later, at 5:11 a.m., firefighters were called to a home 0.4 miles away on Cedar Avenue and South Cody Street. That fire started in the passenger seat of a vehicle, according to West Metro Fire officials. That fire was on the corner of the Colorado Christian University campus.

At 5:48 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to a carport 0.4 miles away at 341 South Estes Street. That fire burned so hot and fast, officials called a second alarm to get more crews on scene.

Video from AirTracker7 showed at least six cars in a carport burned there. Firefighters said up to a dozen vehicles may have burned.

"There was a huge explosion that shook our apartments, it brought me out of a deep sleep," resident Talene Magee said. "We all just ran outside. We all could smell the smoke, we could smell gas."

Glenn Kamamura said the Subaru he bought just three months ago was destroyed.

"I was hoping my car wasn’t going to go up, but then I saw my car in flames and I knew it was a goner," Kamamura said. "In five minutes, that whole carport was up (in flames)."

Forty-four minutes later, at 6:32 a.m., firefighters were called to a fourth fire just two houses down at 364 South Estes. In that case, firefighters said one car was damaged.

West Metro Fire confirms that the arson team is investigating whether there is a connection between the fires. Krol noted the fires were all within blocks of each other and they all happened within a two-hour period.

"It's possible that this person was on foot," Kral said. "It also gives you an idea, if they're staying in this area, maybe some places to look for where they might have purchased gasoline."

Investigators were interviewing witnesses all afternoon, but they say at this point nobody saw anyone running from any of the four fire scenes.

For now, arson investigators will test evidence from the fires and take another look at past fires in the neighborhood.

Officials ask anyone with any information about the fires to call either the West Metro Fire Department at 303-989-4307 or the Lakewood Police Department at 303-987-7111.

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