Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


On Christmas Day 1907, fire destroyed the Rio Grande rail depot at Alamosa, Colorado, the Salida Mail reported. The fire made significant headway before the alarm was sounded. Flames were  "so fierce that the local fire department was entirely unable to make successful combat," the newspaper said.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Fort Collins firefighters post Fire Prevention Week signs from bed of 1938 Diamond-T rural engine in October 1950.

Photo: Poudre Valley Fire Authority


On Oct. 12, 1928, Denver firemen William Barber, Richard Schwairy and Silas Briggs were killed when Pumper 7 and Truck 12 collided at 42nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard. Four others were injured.

Photo: Denver Fire Dept.


McPhee & McGinnity: On May 23, 1935, fire struck the prominent Denver lumber, paint and building supply company.

: Private Collection

Wednesday, March 23, 2016



Photo: Pueblo City County Library District

Photo: Pueblo City County Library District

Fire and ice took a toll in Pueblo on March 1, 1922, when flames destroyed the city's Grand Opera House.

he temperature was 22 degrees below zero when the alarm rang in at 1:15 a.m. for Fourth and Main streets.

A party had been held at the opera house the evening before, it was reported.

According to the Pueblo Fire Museum:

Three alarms were turned in by 1:30, bringing every piece of equipment the fire dept. had and fireman they could find.

"It burned its way to the scenery loft above the stage, and soon the falling and flaming scenery drapes ignited the stage.

"By 1:50, the roof had collapsed." 

The museum also said:

"The frigid temperatures froze hoses to the ground, and two firemen ended up with frostbite.

"After the fire was out, they had to pull the frozen hoses behind the trucks back to the fire station to thaw out, before they were able to wash and hang the hose."

"They fought the fire from the Federal Building and Post Office across the alley, pulling hoses up the interior of the building, stationing two in windows and one hose line on the roof."

According to the Pueblo County Historical Society, the op
era house opened in October 1890 with a performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Iolanthe.” 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


On Nov. 14, 1911, flames fed by strong winds struck the White City amusement park at 
, Colorado, outside Denver, destroying the scenic railway and adjoining North Pole attraction.

Lakeside's volunteer firefighters were credited with saving the park.

The Denver Fire Dept. provided mutual aid, according to the Aspen Democrat-Times, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.

Wikipedia says the fire also destroyed The Glide.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Photo :

Photo: Denver Post blog
Stranded engines at 64th Ave. and Logan St. in Denver

On June 16, 1965, the South Platte River flooded. Devastation struck Denver and beyond after several days of record rain. Two dozen people died statewide.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

PARCO - 1927


On April 6, 1927, a fire and explosion rocked the 
Producers and Refiners oil refinery in the company town of Parco, Wyoming.

Parco is now known as Sinclair, Wyoming.


Parco, Wyo., April 6. -- (AP) -- At least seventeen men were killed early today when an explosion occurred in the Producers and Refiners oil refining plant here.
One man was missing shortly before noon and was believed to have died in the blast and subsequent fire which caused damage of $500,000 to the refinery.
Explosion Felt Seven Miles.
The explosion rocked this unique oil town, laid out only a few years ago by FRANK E. KISTLER, head of the Parco organization, on model architectural lines, and the detonation was felt in Rawlins, seven miles West.
The disaster was caused by the explosion of a chamber in a high pressure still which set fire to nine other stills and two storage tanks. The fire still was burning late this morning but was under control.
Bodies Taken From Plant.
Sixteen bodies have been taken from the plant. Fourteen of them were identified.
The identified dead were:
W. W. DODD, forty-two.
FREDERICK JESEMER, twenty-seven.
F. C. SPEYER, forty-nine.
ALBERT SMITH, twenty-five.
CLARENCE POSEY, twenty-seven.
ORCELO MARTINEZ, thirty-six.
E. R. WELSH, thirty-two.
G. G. TURPIN, twenty-six.
R. N. SHERMAN, missing.
H. O. EBY, missing.
Victims All Leave Families.
GEORGE EVANS CURRY and ARTHUR AYALA were believed to be fatally burned. They are in a Rawlins hospital, as are P. L. WELSH, CALVIN SMITH, GEORGE BYRON POLK, who were severely burned and SMITH died late this afternoon.

All of the men who were killed were married and most of them had to three children.

Reno Evening Gazette,  April 6, 1927

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

DURANGO - 1974

Photo: Animas Museum
On Aug. 24, 1974, Durango firefighter Nick Parks III and police Corporal Gale Emerson died when wall collapsed at a raging fire on Main Avenue, according to the Associated Press and Durango Herald. "The whole thing came down without warning," said an official quoted by the AP. Six buildings were destroyed; a seventh was damaged.


Photo: Lake County geneaology website 
Fire at Lake County Courthouse, Leadville, Colorado; date unknown

Monday, March 14, 2016


Photo: National Park Service
That's a lot of bull! Bison passes engines at Yellowstone National Park - 1988 

Photo: Jeff Henry/Yellowstone National Park digital archive [in public domain]
Watering down Old Faithful complex at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - 1988

Firefighters water down Old Faithful Inn - 1988

In 1988, the largest wildfire in the recorded history of Yellowstone National Park scorched 1 million acres in Wyoming and Montana. Starting as individual fires, the flames - fueled by winds and drought - merged into a conflagration that burned for weeks. On Sept. 8, 1988, the entire park was closed to all but fire crews for the first time.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Photos: The Locomotive

In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, boiler explosions were a common occurrence.

Across the U.S., there were 499 boiler explosions reported in 1911, accounting for 222 deaths and 416 injuries, according to statistics from the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. as reported by the Journal of The Cleveland Engineering Society, May 1913.

Colorado wasn't immune.

A boiler blast at the Gumry Hotel in downtown Denver led to a collapse and fire that killed 22 people in 1895, and an explosion at a steel plant in Pueblo claimed several more lives in 1911.

On June 16, 1909, Denver was plunged into darkness when a boiler exploded at the power plant of the Denver Gas and Electric Co. at Sixth and Curtis streets.

A dispatch in that day's Daily Shield of Mansfield, Ohio said:

"So terrific was the explosion that the heavy boiler was thrown high into the air. It crashed through the roof of the plant and completely wrecked the generator and roof and walls. ... 
The electric lights were cut off for more than two hours and the city was in darkness."

Four people were killed immediately.

Several others were injured.

Ill-fated Boiler No. 17, located on the Curtis street side of the plant, was estimated to have been airborne for 20 seconds, rocketing to an altitude of 1,659 feet. It came to rest 175 feet from its original location.

The boiler was being brought back on line after repairs to brickwork ordered by a city inspector.

The machine provided 400-horse power, was of water-tube construction and designated a "safety boiler," according to The Locomotive, trade publication of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., July 1909.


The Ruins

In 1881, Denver's Union Depot replaced four rail stations, combining various operations and simplifying transfers. Sadly, a fire swept the depot on March 22, 1894.

There were many narrow escapes from death by the firemen, and each new experience of this nature was received with a hush of awe by the spectators and a shout of rejoicing," a newspaper account said.

"It seemed to the spectator of the lurid scene as though it was but the burning of a toy paper house."

The loss, perhaps, wouldn't have been as great had the alarm been sounded sooner.

"The employees attempted to put out the fire and did not call the department promptly," the newspaper, the Fairplay Flume, reported.

The current Union Station opened in 1914.


: Gary C. Chancey, USDA Forest Service

Firefighter Seth Tuuri, of the Black Hills National Forest Bearlodge Ranger District, battles a structure fire near Aladdin, Wyoming, in 2004.


On Oct. 1, 1898, fire raged in Colorado Springs and The Kansas City Journal reported:






Colorado Springs, Col., Oct. 1. -- This city had a visitation of fire this afternoon which threatened for four hours to destroy the entire business district. The wind was blowing at the rate of forty-five miles an hour from the southwest when the fire started, at the Denver & Rio Grande freight depot, at the foot of Cucheras Street, at 2:10 p.m., and the flames spread with great rapidity.

A strip four blocks long from north to south, and two blocks wide from east to west, was burned over, and the flames would not have been checked there but for assistance from Denver and Pueblo.

The Antlers Hotel, one of the largest in the West, the lumber yards and two blocks of business houses were destroyed. In round numbers the loss is estimated at $1,000,000, insured for one-half that amount. The losses estimated are as follows:

Antlers Hotel, $350,000.
Newton Lumber Company, $60,000.
El Paso Lumber Company, $35,000.
Irvine & Sons, blacksmith, $2,000.
Denver & Rio Grando railroad, $30,000.
Gulf Depot, $5,000.
Home Hotel, $3,500.
General losses of business firms and individuals not enumerated, $465,000.

The fire started in a pile of rubbish underneath the platform of the Denver & Rio Grande freight depot. Within five minutes it had communicated to freight cars standing at the depot, and it spread so rapidly that it was impossible to move any of the cars. Half a car of powder consigned to G. S. Barnes & Son exploded.

The cans were thrown for hundreds of feet, and the wonder is that nobody was injured. Then came the terrible danger to the city. Great chunks of fire were scattered about, and in a few moments the Crissey & Fowler lumber yards, 500 feet away, were burning. The wind was sweeping a perfect hurricane. The flames rushed through the lumber yards and burned all the light frame buildings in the block. Then they leaped across the street and burned the El Paso Lumber Company and the paint establishment of Sperry & Tuckerman. A few minutes after the Newton lumber yards caught.

For a time after this, it looked as if the Antlers might be saved, but the heat was too great. There was not water enough to send a stream half way up the building. At 4 o'clock, it was burning on the south end and the famous hotel was doomed.

The colored employes of the hostelry showed great intrepidity in climbing out of the upper windows in the face of an infernal heat and pouring water upon the fire through a small hose. They left their posts only after the heat became positively unbearable.

Down below, the firemen were also directing streams upon the buildings, but the water pressure had become so reduced that the streams were of little effect. The contour of the buildings, the upper stories of which were of wood, served to make a succession of smoke-stacks along the sides, and it was but a few moments until the smoke and flames were leaping from nearly every window

The building stood for a long time against the tremendous heat. The flames rose higher and higher, and soon the wood works burned away from them. Here and there blue flames shot up where the copper cornices caught fire. It took about two hours for the hotel to burn, and it made a tremendous hot fire. The walls began to fall after the building had been burning perhaps an hour, and they went down with a tremendous roar.

The smoke-stacks remained for quite a long time, and some of them are standing yet.

The Antlers annex was quickly in flames, and went up rapidly.

Two or three explosions were heard while the Antlers was burning and these are supposed to have come from the boilers. All of the Antlers people, from the engineers to the bell boys, stayed at their posts until they could stay no longer.

At 6 o'clock all that was left of the once beautiful Antlers was a mass of blazing debris. Thousands gazed upon it with sorrow and regret, as it was universally conceded to be the chief ornament of the town.

The Antlers was a beautiful six story building owned by the Colorado Springs Hotel Company, in which General Palmer was heavily interested. The lessee proper was E. Burnett. The building was insured for $200,000, and the furniture, valued at $37,500, was insured for $31,500. The building and its contents are almost a total loss. The hotel will be rebuilt.
There were several guests in the hotel, including a number of invalids, but all were gotten out in safety and taken to comfortable quarters.

The Union Pacific and Denver & Gulf railroad passenger depot on Huerfano Street, was burned, but the other railroad passenger stations were unharmed.

 While the big fires were burning several small ones broke out through the city, destroying several residences, and threw people into consternation.

 The limits of the burned district are the Denver & Rio Grande railroad on the west, Cascade Avenue on the east, Pike's Peak Avenue on the north and Cucharas Street on the south.

Among the business houses burned out are the following:
McFarland & Hills, blacksmiths.
Irving & Sons, blacksmiths.
Silver Moon Restaurant.
Kelly Coal Company.
Felix Americano.
Bloom, tailor.
Dietz, blacksmith.
John Kline, painter.
Bartlett, blacksmith.
Creamer & Jordan, blacksmiths.
Maskowitz, clothing.
A. Shapiro, clothing.
J. M. Holliwen, shoemaker.
S. K. Kline, jewelry.
Marlow Bros., confectionery.
Campbell feed store.
Second-hand store.
Restaurant and grocery next to the Gulf depot.
Salvation Army hall.
Columbia Clothing Company.
Seldomridge warehouse.

Their losses range from $500 to $5,000 each. Ten partly loaded freight cars on the tracks are burned.

Several arrests have been made tonight of persons suspected of starting or attempting to start fresh fires, but there is no question that the first fire, at the Denver & Rio Grande freight house, was entirely accidental, possibly being caused by a spark from a locomotive.

PUEBLO - 1953

: Pueblo Fire Museum

On Aug. 29, 1953, flames devoured the Central Block in Pueblo, Colorado. O.G. Pope, 88, an attorney who had an office and apartment in the building, was the sole fatality. As the building crumbled, "We started running fast. Don't know where, just fast," said C.C. Wood, a Pueblo fire captain.

Other major fires in Pueblo:
  • Feb. 22, 1915 - Holmes Hardware Company, one of the largest hardware stores in the state.
  • March 1, 1922 - Grand Opera House Fire. The temperature was 22 degrees below zero when the call came in at 1:15 a.m.
  • Oct. 24, 2007 - Pueblo Ice & Cold Storage Fire. The 20,000 square-foot facility was engulfed when the alarm came in at 12:07 a.m.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


On Dec. 4-5, 1925, Denver firefighters helped rescue 32 miners trapped by a fire at the Fairview Mining Co. gold, silver and led mine located near Nederland.

The City of Bolder also sent firefighters to the Cardinal Mine camp in Boulder County.

Hampered by three feet of snow and winds reaching 40 MPH, rescue crews drilled an emergency mine through "40 feet of rock and earth."

The fire started in a compressor room. A wall of flames burned timbers at the mine's entrance, blocking access.

Miner William Bryant (or Billy Bryce) was burned when he attempted to enter the portal.

The miners were working at the 800-foot level when the fire broke out.

Rescuers faced harsh conditions and m
any took a beating.

John Crenshaw (sic), a Denver fire captain, was seriously overcome by fumes, Denver Fire Chief John Healy said.

Clarence Jansen, a Denver fire lieutenant, was pulled to the surface in a "semi-conscious state" after he had given his gas mask to the crippled fire captain.

Donning smoke masks, the Boulder firefighters entered the main entrance to battle the flames.

"Pulomotors," a forerunner of today's resuscitation equipment, were "held in readiness" for the trapped miners, and a temporary hospital was established at a bunkhouse.

Half of the trapped miners were brought out unconscious.

The others walked out with assistance.

Editor's Note: This story is based on Associated Press dispatches printed in The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, the Prescott Evening Courier of Arizona, the Telegraph-Herald of Dubuque, Iowa, and The Evening Record of Ellensburg, Washington.

See also Longmont Daily Times


From Legends of America

On April 25, 1896, a lovers' quarrel triggered a conflagration in the Wild West, boom-town of Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Firefighters resorted to using dynamite to topple buildings to check the flames.

In the end, much of the city was gone and thousands were without shelter.

Here is the story:

"Started in one of the many brothels, a dance hall girl named Jennie Larue, got into an argument with her lover and while quarreling, accidentally upset a gasoline stove.

"The wooden frame buildings of the camp quickly ignited and spread from one building to the next.

"Buildings in the fire’s path were blown up in an effort to stop the approaching flames.

"The fire departments of Victor, Florence, Colorado Springs and Denver dashed to the city’s aid but there was little that could be done.

"Four days later, half of the city lay in smoldering ruins, when a second fire alarm went off.

"This fire began in the Portland Hotel on Myers Avenue and was believed to have been deliberately set because other fires were discovered simultaneously in other parts of the city.

"In this second fire, eight blocks of buildings were consumed, six lives were lost and nearly four thousand residents were left homeless.

"When it was all said and done, less than ten buildings were left to mark the site of the city.

"The firebugs who were suspected of setting the second fire were lynched


: National Park Service

On Aug. 21, 1937, fire killed 15 firefighters and injured 38 others in Shoshone National Forest, near Cody, Wyoming - a tragedy known as the "Blackwater Fire." Lightning ignited brush near Blackwater Creek and the fire burned for two days before being detected. When fire crews reached the scene, flames covered 200 acres.


Sam Van Arsdale, a firefighter with the Federal Bureau of Public Roads, was injured at the Blackwater Fire and told his story to the Associated Press from a hospital bed.

Cody, Wyo., Aug. 23 (AP) - When that fierce wind came up, I did the most natural thing.

I tried to get away from that terrible heat.

I threw my hands over my face and ran away from the first big wave of heat.

But, then, as I was running against the rim rock, a cross wind hit us.

The flames scorched right over my hands. They were badly burned.

I threw my hands away from my face and I screamed. And I knew my face was burned.

It was my first experience in a fire.

When I felt my face was burned, I turned around and ran down the hill toward the fire coming up from below.

I realized as I ran I was going into a fire. I began to think how horrible it would be to die that way.

So I turned around just quick enough to get away from the flames and ran back up the hill again.

Running up the heat hit me again. You just couldn't get away from it. The wind was twisting all around.

I guess I screamed and fell down. I remember I started to roll down the hill. Then it was all over.
I remember there were other fellows running with me down the hill the first time. But they didn't turn around. I guess they tried to run on through.

But I saw some of them just lay down in there and let the fire burn over them.

When I woke up lying on the ground, I was holding my face and the first thing I thought of I was going to die. I know I prayed and I think every other fellow did, too.

I though of mother and dad, and my girl friend, and my career. I wondered if I ever could use my hands again. You see, I'm going to study surgery.

Many of the fellows around me were screaming. There was still a lot of smoke and it made me panicky. I wanted to scream, too, but I realized there were fellows burned much more badly than I was, so I tried not to.

Somebody came in then and found us. A started walking out through the coals. I could feel my feet getting hot.

But we got out all right.

It was the most horrible experience I ever went through.


From Fire Service magazine, Jan. 28, 1922

The resignation of Percy Hoyt as chief of the Cheyenne, Wyo., Auxiliary Volunteer Fire Department, an organization offering fighting veterans called upon to aid the paid city department in time of emergency has been delivered to Mayor Taylor and the auxiliary department is to be disbanded.

Whether it will be replaced by a similar new organization of volunteers has not been decided.

 Hoyt, a wealthy clubman whose hobby is fire fighting, has been chief of the auxiliary since its organization 13 years ago, when the old volunteer department was disbanded.

 Hoyt was a conspicuous figure at the annual conventions of the International Association of Fire Engineers.

He was in the habit of wearing a cowboy’s sombrero with a rattlesnake skin around it.

The local papers in writing up the conventions frequently referred to him as “the millionaire Chief.”

Whether a millionaire or not, it was admitted that he had done much for the fire service of his state. 

More than once he paid for apparatus out of his own pocket and was liberal in expenditures for the fire department over which he presided.


Photo: Business Wire

Scene following Spanish Gate fire in Denver suburb of Glendale in December 2003. A resident trapped by flames died as she called for help. Another went to prison for starting the fire. Glendale firefighters received aid from Denver and other cities. Denver later assumed responsibility for Glendale's fire service.

17TH AND BLAKE - 1919

Denver, Colo. -- One young woman was probably fatally injured, six firemen were hurt, one seriously, and scores of bystanders had their lives endangered when two automobile fire trucks, traveling at a high rate of speed, met in a collision at the intersection of Seventeenth and Blake Streets in this city.

Six firemen were taken to the county hospital and MISS NEVA HOLMES, a student at the University of Colorado, lies at the point of death at the same place, suffering from injuries sustained when she was borne down by the three-ton city hall pumper truck and carried twenty feet over a sidewalk and through the double doors of a store building.

A fire alarm at the Fairbanks-Morse building, 1733 Wazee Street, was being responded to by engine company No. 6 at the city hall and by engine company No. 4, located at Twentieth and Curtis Streets.

The firemen, realizing that the utmost in speed was demanded when such a large building was in danger, raced their machines through the downtown streets.

Truck No. 4 was heading down Seventeenth Street and truck No. 6 was coming up Blake Street, both traveling at a terrific rate. Neither Driver GEORGE LUCOCK of truck 4 nor C. J. VAN SLACK of truck 6 realized the nearness of each other and the two machines arrived at the intersection to the second.

Realizing that a collision was imminent, both drivers veered their trucks in opposite directions, an act which probably saved many lives, but even after swerving, the two machines sideswiped each other with terrific force, causing truck 4 to turn over, while truck 6 continued a head-long advance over the curbstone and into the doors of a cigar store owned by M. Perlman.

Driver VAN SLACK, who remained at his wheel until the last, was catapulted from the seat to the floor of the store. Firemen MICHAEL TANEY and JOSEPH CARR were swept from their positions on the side of truck 6 as it struck the building. All three of these firemen were unconscious when help arrived.

Bystanders, with the aid of several members of the Marine corps, started rescue work at once and MISS HOLMES, who was pinned beneath the wreckage of Truck 6, was carried out with Fireman VAN SLACK. All six firemen were taken to the county hospital in the police ambulance and Fire Chief John Healy took the girl to the same place.

Casa Grande Dispatch, Arizona, Oct. 17, 1919


Photo: Englewood Public Library
Englewood Fire Department, circa 1950 

Englewood, Colorado, disbanded its century-old fire department on June 1, 2015 and Denver took over on a contract basis. The Denver Fire Department established Engine 37 and Truck 38 to protect Englewood and added 40 Englewood firefighters to its ranks.


Fire crew stands at the ready as police rescue students from mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.

LARAMIE - 1907

On May 16, 1907, fire broke out in the business district Laramie, Wyoming. 
Alerted by both telephone and a corner fire alarm box, firemen arrived in minutes, however, the race was already lost.

Fire extended north from Thornburg to University, from Second Street to an alley, according to Wyoming Tales and Trails, a web site about state history.

 destroyed Kingford's and Eggleston's cigar stores; Peterson's tailor shop; Miller's and Carter's jewelry; Home Restaurant; the Boomerang newspaper; Crawford's second-hand store; Lockwood's taxidermy.

Heat fractured windows on the Miller Block, ignited awnings and melted part of the City Hall cornice, while the 
Laramie drug store and the Derby Saloon sustained smoke and water damage.


On Jan. 27, 1997, an arson fire killed five guests at the Hacienda Plaza Inn in Thornton, Colorado. Two firefighters were injured.
Photo: Denver Post blog

Thornton, Colorado
Jan. 27, 1997
Excerpt from U.S. Fire Administration Technical Report
Investigator Thomas H. Miller, P.E.

Around 2:30 a.m. one of the occupants of Room 222 telephoned the front desk to
report smoke coming through the bathroom exhaust. It is unknown if she was awake
when the smoke was discovered or if she was awake by the room’s single station smoke
detector. A short time later the occupant again called the front desk to report that she and
her bedridden mother were trapped in their room by the fire. Both room occupants
perished in the fire with the official cause of death being listed as carbon monoxide
intoxication for each victim. It was less than 20 feet from their room door to the outside
of the building.

After notifying the fire department via the 911 emergency telephone number, the
desk clerk called a hotel maintenance employee who lived in Room 224, just a short
distance away. Although the employee responded promptly, the fire conditions in the
breezeway outside Room 222 were impassable due to the flames.

The Adams County Communication Center (ADCOM) records indicate receiving
the 911 telephone call at 2:33 a.m. and a second telephone call at 2:39 a.m. North Metro
was dispatched at 2:35 a.m., sending four engines, an ambulance and a battalion chief;
units were reported enroute within two minutes. Thornton police units were enroute to
the fire even before the fire department was dispatched; their first cars were reporting
flames visible from the outside on arrival at 2:39 a.m.

Engine 67 located approximately 1.8 miles away was the first fire unit on the
scene several seconds before 2:40 a.m. The 4-person crew positioned the apparatus near
the fire hydrant at the southwest corner of the front wing and initially assisted with
evacuation of Room 211. The crew then stretched a 1 3/4 inch line to the base of the
stairway in the southwest corner.

Battalion Chief 61 requested a working fire tone at 2:40:39 a.m. and a second alarm
at 2:40:44 a.m. Unfortunately, due to the extensive radio traffic and activity at ADCOM,
the Chief’s second alarm request was not recognized. The command post was established
in the parking lot in front of the building with the Battalion Chief assuming the incident
command. When the Incident Commander requested the response status on the second
alarm units at 2:54 a.m., ADCOM advised that none had been dispatched. About 2:57 a.m.
the second alarm was recognized and dispatched. This alarm brought four more engines
and a truck to the scene.

Engine 62 was the second engine on the scene just before 2:47 a.m. accompanied by
Ambulance 62. The three member engine company assisted Engine 67 with rescue and
advance of the hose line. The ambulance crew established a triage area in the front parking lot
and requested additional resources from its headquarters. Eventually five AMR ambulances
plus supervisory personnel responded to the fire scene. The search of Rooms 201 to 210 was
completed by 2:52 a.m. and this area declared “all clear” by Engine 62. Attention now
focused on extinguishing the fire at the base of the stairs at the west end of the front wing.

Engine 66 arrived at the scene at 2:44:36 a.m. and the Incident Commander directed
them to the west side of the property. The three member crew’s initial operation was the
evacuation of the west wing at the east end. A ground ladder was used to assist the occupants
of Room 301. At arrival, fire was exiting at the second and third floor levels through the
breezeway glass and aluminum enclosures. These had failed completely and the second floor
breezeway area was heavily involved and the third floor level was nearly the same.

Engine 63 arrived about four minutes after Engine 66 and its three member crew was
assigned to assist Engine 66. It reverse laid a 5-inch supply line from 66 to the hydrant at the
north end of the property. A 1-3/4" line was advanced by the combined crews as the hydrant
water supply was established. About 3:08 a.m. these crews found the first victim and removed
him from Room 220. The victim was unconscious, not breathing, and did not have a pulse. The
fire in the second floor breezeway and passageway was still burning in several locations.

Most of the second alarm units were enroute by 3:04 a.m. or before. Three of the
engines and the truck were on scene by 3:10 a.m. and the fourth engine by 3:14 a.m. Engine
68’s three member crew was assigned to the patio area at the inside corner of the junction
between the front and west wings. They searched Rooms 101 to 106, 212 to 218, and the
second and third floor west wings closest to the fire. Afterwards, they advanced a 2-1/2" line
wyed into a 1-3/4" line to the patio area from Engine 66.

Truck 51 was positioned at the west end of the front wing and raised their ladder
to the roof. The six member crew ventilated the roof over the stairway at the west end of
the front wing and the stairway at the south end of the west wing. Assistance with this
assignment was provided by the three member crew from Engine 33. The two stairways
were ventilated about 3:30 a.m. and Command assigned the truck company to ventilate
over the utility chase in the front wing. Engine 33 was given another assignment.

While the roof venting was underway, search of the west wing third floor rooms
away from the fire continued with the assistance of the Thornton Police. Engine 63 and
66 crews were also searching Rooms 220, 221, and 222 off the still partially burning
breezeway. A second fire victim was located in Room 220 and removed to Engine 66 at
3:39 a.m. Two more victims were located at 3:53 a.m. in Room 222. All victims were
unconscious, not breathing, and did not have a pulse. The fifth victim, who was badly
burned, was not located until later. His remains were found near the breezeway’s second
floor west enclosure wall in the debris. The coroner was requested to the scene at 3:51

Engine 65 with a four member crew arrived at the scene at 3:14 a.m. and, along
with Engine 33, were assigned to hand stretch a 2-1/2" line from Engine 67 to the east
end of the front wing. This operation started about 3:30 a.m. Reports from Engine 33 at
about 4:00 a.m. indicate an immediate need for ventilation in this area and at 4:10 a.m.
they reported that the fire in the utility chase had extended to the east end of the front
wing. They requested additional assistance at this time.

Incident Command had also been requesting additional resources. The Red Cross
was requested to help with the displaced occupants around 3:00 a.m. Buses were
requested from the regional transportation authority for both occupant protection and
later for firefighter rehabilitation. No official third alarm was ordered; rather, requests for
specific equipment were made. At 3:35 a.m., two engines were requested from
Westminster Fire Department. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., breathing air supply and spare
bottles were requested from North Washington Fire Protection District.

Chief 51 was supervising the roof sector and the ventilation being done over the
utility chase and reported that progress was being made at 3:46 a.m. Unfortunately, about
3:52 a.m. two firefighters broke part way through the roof and one injured a knee
sufficiently to be transported to the hospital for treatment. At this time all firefighters were
ordered off of the light weight roof. Fire through the roof near the southwest corner of the
front wing was reported at 3:58 a.m.

Tactical operations then changed from an offensive mode to a defensive one.
About the same time the fire conditions were deteriorating, Incident Command was
transferred to North Metro’s deputy chief of operations. Command instructed Truck 51 to
establish a ladder pipe operation at its position and two 2-1/2" lines were stretched from
Engine 67. The “B” shift was recalled to their stations at 4:13 a.m. and two engines were
requested from Southwest Adams County shortly after. 

Westminster Engine 2 did a forward 5" hose lay from the hydrant at Acoma Street
and 84th Avenue to near the southeast corner of the front wing. Westminster Engine 6 set
up their TeleSquirt on the south side of the front wing using a supply from Engine 2. Both
operations were completed and the elevated master stream operating before 4:30 a.m.

As crews became available, lines were advanced from Engine 2 to the front wing’s
second floor east end. Two 1-3/4" lines were placed near Rooms 201 and 212
respectively. Another 2-1/2" line was brought to the east end of the utility chase to back
up the one placed into operation by crews from Engines 33 and 65 .

Between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., the main body of active fire was being contained in
the front wing by master streams and hand lines. Sufficient fire ground strength was
available that just before 5:00 a.m. Command advised sectors that crew rotation and
rehabilitation was possible. Although not officially declared, the fire was effectively
under control at this time.

The Dead:
  • Tad Alfred Westcott, 24
  • Erik Waite, 23
  • Anthony Bunn, 28
  • Vivian Garrett, 84
  • Sue Garrett, 53