JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – Investigators said they believe an early morning blaze Saturday at a condominium building in unincorporated Jefferson County was set intentionally.
They said a suspect, 29-year-old Alex James Duran, has been arrested, and is being held for investigation of arson and attempted murder.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Firefighters responded at 1:07 a.m. Saturday to a two-alarm fire at Greystoke Condos, which is on the 8400 block of South Reed Street.
"The initial call was for smoke investigation," said Connor Wist, of South Metro Fire Rescue.
It ended up being much more than that.
"The building was fully engulfed in flames and some residents were reportedly jumping from windows to escape the fire," Wist said.
She added that radiant heat from the fire scorched several cars nearby and began melting bumpers on vehicles on the other side of the parking lot.
Neighbor Kit Long said he woke up when his toddler daughter started getting fussy.
"I heard screaming and thought it was an argument, so I sat back down and then I noticed an orange glow out the window," he said.
Long said he ran outside and saw three people on a balcony, including a mother asking for help.
"The building was engulfed in flames," he said. "All I could think about was what if that were my daughter trapped up there."
Long said he ran toward the balcony as other people were running from the building.
"They trusted me and jumped into my arms," he said.
The fire destroyed a large portion of a stairwell and badly damaged the building.
Nine people were evaluated for smoke inhalation and two were taken to a hospital. One was a firefighter with a minor injury. They are all expected to be OK, Wist said.
Residents from six apartments were displaced.
Another neighbor, Derek Slegl, said one of the units — unit 102 — had an orange-yellow light coming through the windows all the time over the previous two weeks.
Slegl added he hadn't seen the owner during that time.
He said the owner ran from the scene as authorities arrived.
"They chased him down," he said.
Duran was booked into the Jefferson County jail on 12 counts of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of first-degree arson, nine counts of second-degree arson, 18 counts of fourth-degree arson, criminal mischief and third-degree assault.
A third floor resident said he called 911 after seeing flames.
"They said it was okay to open a bedroom window, so I lowered my son down to waiting deputies, then started climbing down myself," he said.
When asked about losing his home four days before Christmas, he said, "We're alive — that's the best holiday present I could have got."
Duran is slated to appear in court at 10 a.m. Monday.