Brighton fire destroys businesses as nearby homes are evacuated

Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-03 01:07:00-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. -- Firefighters spent more than four hours dousing the flames raging from a building in downtown Brighton Friday afternoon.

Officials told Denver7 the blaze started in the auto body shop, one of three businesses housed in the same building.

"There were some cars on fire so the fire was spreading from car to car and then to the building," said Brighton Fire Chief Mark Bodane.

That's what firefighters saw when they arrived. The known flammable chemicals inside were the concern that kept crews fighting the flames from above.

"There were drums and barrels in there containing lacquers and thinners and things," said Bodane.

The burning liquids ignited the fire and caused explosions, as it spread to tire shop. Brighton Police officers then proceeded to evacuate nearby homes and businesses.

Erika Carbajal, 12, her younger sister and their babysitter had to leave their home.

"Police came and told us to evacuate."

They watched from behind yellow tape along with other residents and business owners as the fire soared.

"I thought like our house was gonna burn," said Carbajal.

Cynthia Vigil's family was able to save their pets from the smoke.

"We rushed in to save Jack, which is their rabbit."

Amanda Gilmore and her family had just come home from a graduation.

"(I'm) just worried about my house. The flames are really, really close and the smoke... this is my home."

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the homes, but  the impact on the community was severe as several businesses were destroyed.

Denver7 spoke to the owner of the grocery store that caught fire. She said it was family run and had been under their ownership for the last four years. Employees were inside when they heard explosions, but were able to get out safely.

As the families watched, they were grateful no one was hurt and nothing was lost that couldn’t be replaced.

"I’m feeling blessed. My son, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren are OK and it didn't happen at night,” said Vigil.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the blaze.