BRIGHTON, Colo. -- Investigators say a massive fire that destroyed at least four businesses in downtown Brighton was likely caused by a welder working in an auto repair shop.
“It was kind of crazy, because you’re across the street and you see a bunch of fire,” said Emmanuel Garcia, whose family owns Kiko’s Authentic Mexican Foods.
Garcia said he watched as brown smoke began seeping from the building housing Llantera La Michoacan Tires and Wheels.
He said before long, the smoke turned black… and flames began leaping out of the building.
“You could tell it was hot,” he said. “You’d step outside and you could feel the heat.”
Crews from five fire departments battled the blaze, which sent flames and thick black smoke shooting skyward, Friday afternoon and evening.
Today, a chain link fence surrounds the property. Restricted access signs are posted on the doors and the burned-out shells of multiple cars sit inside the ruins.
What was once a roof is now just twisted metal, lying on top of the rest of the debris.
A line of cars parked in the lot 25 feet away were visibly scorched by the heat.
The tail light on one car melted and the rear window shattered into thousands of pieces. The paint on the door handle crinkled and began to flake a way.
“I think it’s kind of sad, honestly,” Garcia said. “I know the owners.”
Garcia told Denver7 he was outside watching the blaze Friday afternoon and he saw the owner of Carniceria Jerez.
“She was crying because she knew it was a pretty big fire,” he said, “and it was getting out of hand.”
The blaze destroyed Llantera La Michoacan Tires and Wheels, Carniceria Jerez, El Valle Tortilleria and Las Palomas Miscelaneos.
Garcia said his family will soon feel the effects of the devastating blaze.
He said the carniceria delivered meat whenever they needed it for their restaurant.
“We didn’t have to wait for a delivery truck,” he said. “It was the same with tortillas. When we ran out, we’d run across the street to get some,” he said. “They had small things too, like vegetables or juice.”
Garcia said, “It’s sad to see people lose their business, but it’s great that everyone was safe.”