Wood frame apartment fire risks also exist in Denver

Two apartments caught fire in Raleigh, KC
Posted at 10:51 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 00:51:05-04

DENVER -- Following two massive fires at wood frame apartment complexes in Raleigh and Kansas City, Denver7 found many Denver apartments are wood-frame buildings and present the same fire risks.

"It's basically like burning a box of matches that are stacked up," explained Melissa Taylor with the Denver Fire Department.

According to Denver Community Planning and Development, more than 100 wood-frame apartment buildings have recently been built or are currently under construction in the city.

"It's very, very inexpensive and very common," Taylor said.

Denver7 found several wood-frame apartments under construction, including one off 13th Avenue and Elati.

Another one just broke ground a block away on Speer Boulevard between 13th and 14th avenues, where a 322-unit complex is going up with five stories of wood frame, over two levels of concrete.

"A wood frame multi-family structure is going to have a higher degree of smoke suppression requirements because we do know that those will burn more quickly," Taylor said.

Under Denver Building Code, which follows international standards, wood frame apartments are required to have tested sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and possibly fire retardant treated wood.

However, those are some of the last steps of construction, which means they're often not in place if a building catches fire during the early phases of construction.

"It's absolutely something that can happen," Taylor said.

A similar fire happened in Glendale in 2013, after an under constructed wood frame apartment went up in flames and caused $12 million in damages. 


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