Family of construction site fire worker who died in blaze says he 'went out a hero'

DENVER – It’s been five long days for two Denver families waiting for confirmation about whether it was their loved ones who died in a massive construction site fire that broke out in Denver's Uptown neighborhood.

The fire happened off E. 18th Avenue and N. Emerson Street near downtown Denver last Wednesday.

Investigators initially said two people were unaccounted for, but several hours after the fire had been put out, the first victim had been found in the charred debris of the five-story apartment project. A day later, the second victim was found in the rubble. 

On Monday, the family of one of those victims opened their doors to Denver7 to speak about the last moments for one of those workers.

Mike and Maureen Peterson, of Broomfield, said their 37-year-old son Dustin was on the third floor where the fire started.

“I texted him 40 minutes before the fire started,” Maureen said. “I’m upset I didn’t just call him so I could hear his voice one last time. It’s like he went to work and disappeared off the face of the earth.”

Dustin’s father, Mike, said when the fire happened he tried calling his son.

“When we got to the job site the fire was out,” Mike said. “But his boss told us he was unaccounted for.”

Dustin’s parents were told by witnesses that he rushed back into the building after hearing somebody scream.

“They put a lift right next to the building for him to get on,” Maureen said. “And everybody heard someone screaming from inside. Dustin turned around and went back in.”

“I’m just so proud of him,” Mike said. “And yet, I miss him so much. I just want him back.”

Dustin’s brother, Dan, said Dustin was the type of person that cared about people.

“He went out on his terms,” Dan said. “He was a hero. He went out a hero.”

The Petersons are still waiting for an official confirmation one of the dead is Dustin. Until then, they are still waiting for his body.

“We just want him back,” Maureen said. “Whatever is left of him, we want him back. We want him home.”

To help donate to the Petersons during this time, click here.

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