Investigators haven’t been able to determine the cause of the May 24 fire that displaced all 123 residents of an 11-story senior living apartment building in southwest Colorado Springs, the Fire Department said Thursday.
The four-alarm blaze started in the hall closet between the living space and the bedrooms of a 10th-floor apartment at the Regency Tower Apartments, 921 Green Star Drive, the Fire Department said. But after “conducting an extensive physical evidence investigation” and interviewing witnesses, investigators were unable to determine the cause.
“There is no evidence or reason to believe that the fire was the result of suspicious circumstances,” the Fire Department said.
While most of the damage was to the upper two floors, none of the residents was allowed back in for nearly a week while safety inspections were conducted.
Residents of floors one to nine were cleared to return about 11:45 a.m. Thursday.
After completing its investigation, the Fire Department turned the building over to Regency Towers’ management company at noon Saturday on the condition that before residents return, the fire alarm system, all smoke alarms and both elevators be functional.
A certified electrician also had to verify that the electrical system was functional.
Residents of floors 10 and 11 won’t be able to return until management receives approval from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
The blaze was reported at 11:07 a.m., drawing 104 firefighters to the building. The first engine arrived to “gray-black smoke” pouring from the apartment where the fire started, which is on the south end of the building’s west side.
Firefighters took four people down by ladder — three on the west side from the 10th and 11th floors and one on the east side from the 10th floor — and rescued three people inside the building at the north stairwell.
“Firefighters on the interior were able to carry the impacted victims to the ninth floor for evaluation and offer further assistance to the ground floor,” the Fire Department said.
Two people were taken to hospitals for smoke inhalation, and four were treated on site, the Fire Department said. One cat died in the fire.
The apartment where the fire started and three other units on the 10th floor will have to be restored before they will be inhabitable.
“The doors of the three smoke damaged apartments were left open, which drew smoke and heat conditions into those units,” the Fire Department said.
“During primary search operations, many entry doors on the fire floor and the floor above the fire were forced open by firefighters in search of possible victims. Smoke damage on the floor above the fire is minimal as many occupants closed their doors upon leaving, and firefighters are trained to close doors behind them after searching for victims.”