Firefighters done gathering evidence as 8 buildings still uninhabitable at scene of massive fire

DENVER — Firefighters have completed gathering physical evidence from the scene of a large fire that burned an apartment complex under construction, Denver Fire Department Chief Eric Tade told Denver7.

Fire crews will now begin forensically examining the evidence as they search for what caused the building near 18th and Emerson to catch on fire Mar. 7. Two people were killed, and six other people were hurt.

Fire damaged 13 buildings, according to Andrea Burns, communications director for Denver’s Community Planning and Development office.

Businesses and residents have been allowed back into five of the damaged buildings, Burns said. Those are the buildings farthest from the fire.

Eight buildings still don’t have power, water or gas, she said.

“Those buildings have multiple businesses and residents inside them and cover multiple addresses,” Burns said.

The city is requiring those buildings to go through a high-level assessment that includes inspection of electrical wiring and a general environmental safety analysis.

The fire occurred when more than 50 construction workers were building a new wood-frame apartment building that was set to open later this year.

During the fire, crews put out flames atop six nearby buildings, said Denver Fire Department spokesman Greg Pixley.

As part of the fire department’s forensic examination, evidence will be sent to a fire lab where investigators will look for fire patterns, including pour patterns.

Such patterns can tell investigators what direction a fire moved and eventually where it started.

The department has not said whether the fire was intentional or accidentally set and Pixley has previously cautioned that it could be months before a determination is made.

Even small bits of evidence can be gathered to help determine a fire’s origin and cause.

Tade said in unrelated fires a single match has been found in the burned rubble and after being scientifically analyzed, determined to have started a fire.

While evidence is being gathered, many witness statements will be compared to other’s accounts of what they saw to determine consistencies and inconsistencies.

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