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Arvada Fire investigators say Wheat Ridge apartment blaze was started by 'youth misuse of fire'

Five people injured in Friday fire
Posted at 9:13 PM, Oct 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-06 00:01:59-04

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- Investigators say a Friday night fire that injured five people and heavily damaged six apartments in Wheat Ridge, was started by kids.

The blaze, which roared through an apartment building on the 11600 block of West 44th Avenue, left 12 people without a home.

Neighbor Rudy Sandoval was working on his truck when he saw smoke starting to pour out of a basement window.

He rushed over to help.

"I ran over to make sure everyone was getting out," he said. "Within minutes, it all went up in flames."

Sandoval told Denver7 that as he started to enter the stairwell, he saw four people running out.

"A woman and three kids," he said.

When asked how old they were, he replied, "They were just little munchkins."

Sandoval said two other men pulled up and quickly started knocking on doors too.

He said he got one man out of the unit next to the one that had caught fire.

Tenant scare

One of the tenants was on her way home from work when she spotted thick smoke billowing up into the sky.

"I was thinking, 'Oh my God! That's right about where my house is!'" said Sandi Toliver.

Toliver said there was smoke and water damage to her apartment, but that her main concern was her dog, a 3-year-old chiweenie.

"They went in to look for him, but they didn't come out with him, so I don't know," she told Denver7 Friday evening.

Later that night, welcome news.

Firefighters found him hiding behind her sofa.

"Happy day," she said.

The apartment building has been boarded up.

Fire crews posted danger signs, warning that the building is unsafe for occupancy.

A neighbor who owns a business across the street drove up to the gutted apartment building Saturday afternoon.

When asked if he'd heard that the blaze may have been started by kids playing with fire, Connor Kelleher replied, "That's why I'm here right now. I brought my grandkids here to show them the consequences of what happens when you play with fire."