Cause of deadly Denver construction site fire 'undetermined'; investigators seeking additional tips

Posted at 10:35 AM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 19:49:48-04

DENVER – The cause of a large fire that killed two workers at an under-construction apartment building in Denver earlier this year remains undetermined, firefighters said Wednesday.

Denver Fire Department Public Information Officer Greg Pixley said in a news conference that investigators have conducted 200 interviews, examined 500 photos of the scene, reviewed witness video of the fire and taken 40 tip line calls but have yet to pinpoint a cause, though investigators were able to determine that the fire started on the building’s third floor.

Sixty-one construction workers were on the site at 18th and Emerson when the fire broke out around noon on Mar. 7, Pixley said. All but two workers were able to escape the fire, which spread quickly due to the building’s wood-frame construction.

The bodies of Robert Prieto, 29, and Dustin Peterson, 37, were found inside the charred remains of the building.

Investigators have been able to rule out many construction-related causes, Pixley said, including framers, welders, plumbers, drywall workers, insulation workers and electricians. The investigation also has ruled out the temporary power sources that were on site at the time.

The investigation will remain open, Pixley said.

Allante Properties, the group that manages the Emerson Place Apartments, expressed condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the fire and thanked DFD and DPD for their work on the investigation.

“As the demolition and clean up continue, we are hopeful, with the public’s help, we can find out why this happened,” said managing partner Daren Schmidt. “I know we all want resolution.”

Pixley said fire investigators are seeking more tips from the public that might help determine a cause of the fire. Tips can be made via phone at 720-337-2828.