LONGMONT, Colo. -- Two young men are in custody on suspicion of arson following a massive fire in Longmont Wednesday night that knocked out power to part of the town.
Robert Fitzpatrick, 22, and August Adams, 18, are being held on suspicion of 2nd Degree Arson, after a witness told police he saw them light a pile of railroad ties on fire and then run from the scene.
“They ran out from behind the railroad ties and I called 911,” said Alve Thompson, who spoke to Fox31 on Wednesday night. “I yelled at them and said, ‘What are you doing?’ and they ran away.”
Investigators are still unsure why the two allegedly started the fire. Court papers identify both Fitzpatrick and Adams as transients.
The flames and smoke from the railroad ties burned so high that they took out overhead power lines and knocked out power to roughly 300 homes and businesses in the southeast part of town.
“It was eerie," said Melinda Hart who lives nearby. "It was pitch black to the east of our house.”
Stan Williamson says his home was among many without power for nearly an hour.
“Half the neighbors that I knew of got in their cars and drove down here because, you know, seeing black smoke like that you don’t know what it is,” Williamson said.
Longmont firefighters and crews from other agencies responded quickly and kept the flames and toxic fumes from spreading, but the intense fire burned well into the night.
The Boulder County District Attorney will file formal charges against the two suspects on Tuesday. They are both being held on $20,000 bond.
“I hope those kids learn something from this and never do it again,” Thompson said.
“I’m glad they caught them," Hart said. "Kids at that age should not be doing things like this to put other people in danger.”