Most of the 29 people displaced during an apartment fire in central Colorado Springs on Wednesday night have been allowed to return home.
Colorado Springs Fire Department spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino said the first and third floors and two units on the second floor of the 24-unit building that were evacuated after a fire apparently began in a closet were reopened to residents at about 9 a.m. Thursday. Smaldino said investigators were on scene Thursday morning attempting to determine the cause of the blaze at the Residence at Austin Bluffs, 4179 Morning Sun Ave., that sparked just before 11 p.m. on Wednesday.
The fire was confined to one apartment, Smaldino said, noting that all other units are expected to be available for tenants to return by the end of Thursday. The American Red Cross and the apartment complex management found shelter Thursday night for all who fled the building during the blaze.
A mother and three children were rescued through a window by firefighters. Two cats were saved and treated with oxygen. And a woman escaped the apartment with a parakeet, Smaldino said. Five residents and one firefighter were treated for minor injuries.
According to Art Marroquin, who lives next door to where the fire began, the blaze was preceded by a loud bang and then the fire alarms sounded. Marroquin said he entered his neighbor's apartment and saw flames in a closet.
"It was way out of control," Marroquin said. "The flames were really high."
It took Colorado Springs fire crews four minutes to arrive after the call. The fire was extinguished just after 11 p.m.
The investigation is expected to be complete some time Thursday afternoon, according to Smaldino.
Smaldino stressed that people living in apartments and in single-family homes need to make sure that all smoke alarms are working. The Colorado Springs Fire Department recommends checking them every six months "when the time changes," she said. Batteries need to be changed annually and most smoke alarms need to be replaced after about 10 years.