Five-year-old boy dies and three others are hurt in two fires in Colorado Springs

November 8, 2013 Updated: November 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm
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Colorado Springs firefighters put a ladder back in the truck while on scene at a two-alarm fire at 4797 Chaparral Road Friday, November 8, 2013. Two people escaped from the home with burns and singed hair after an explosion set the house ablaze. Both people were transported to the hospital. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

A 5-year-old boy died and a woman was hurt in a fire Friday morning on the east side of Colorado Springs, and two people were injured in a separate house explosion and fire a few hours later, officials said.

The first blaze reportedly began in a bedroom in the Hill Park Apartments, 4320 E. Pikes Peak Ave., said Sunny Smaldino, Colorado Springs Fire Department spokeswoman.

The child and a woman were taken to a hospital, where the boy died, Colorado Springs police said. The woman, whose relationship to the boy was not disclosed, is expected to survive, police said.

Police detectives were called to the scene, and police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said they are conducting a death investigation.

Smaldino said the mattress fire in Apartment 203 was quickly extinguished; she did not know how many people were evacuated during the 9:30 a.m. fire in the complex just east of Academy Boulevard.

In the second fire, a house exploded and burst into flames about noon Friday in eastern Colorado Springs and a man and a woman were taken to a hospital with burns.

According to a neighbor, the unidentified couple came out of the house on Chaparral Road, north of Barnes Road and Oro Blanco Drive, with their hair scorched. A spokesman at Penrose Hospital said the couple was treated and released Friday.

"I held her hands," Maryann Hoffman, who lives about five houses away, said of the woman. "She was really upset. I just stood and watched the house burn and burn."

Troy Branham, a CSFD battalion chief, said an off-duty firefighter was in the area and tended to the couple before crews arrived.

The blaze was so intense that the Fire Department sounded a second alarm. Just after 1 p.m., there were about 50 firefighters at the scene, Branham said.

The explosion sent debris into the road and left the two-story-tall brick chimney leaning toward the house next door.

Hoffman said she was about to watch the noon TV news when she heard "a loud boom."

"It scared my dogs and actually shook my house," Hoffman said. "I have never heard such a loud boom."

Branham said the house was highly unstable and all the firefighting was done from outside. He said the cause of the blast was unknown and it would be a risk to send personnel inside in case of a second explosion or building collapse.

Houses on either side of the burned home were evacuated.

Branham said there were a couple of cats in the house at the time of the explosion, but he did not know if they escaped.

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