DENVER -- While arson investigators try to determine what caused a fire at a vacant motel off Interstate 25 and Evans Avenue, people in the neighborhood surveyed the extensive damage on Saturday.
"I stood here and watched the fire burn. I was like, it just brought back some memories," Clarence Lee said.
Lee lived in the Rockies Inn motel for a year while he opened a studio nearby.
Lee recalls watching the massive flames and billowing smoke Friday as he also remembers the friends he made at the motel.
He and dozens of others were forced to move about 18 months ago when the building was sold, he said.
"It was not a nice place. It had black mold, it didn't smell very well, there were rumors of asbestos," he said.
According to property records, the rundown motel was purchased in February 2015 by Denver-based Greenbox Self-Storage.
At the time, the company told BusinessDen.com that plans for the site included a $12 million facility. Asbestos abatement was underway in April 2015 and demolition was scheduled to begin a month later.
"It just seems like after they finished with the asbestos, it sat and sat, and I was looking for them to come in and tear it down but they never did," Lee said.
Next to the motel, the Dirty Duck Bar and the Gift Card Shop are closed indefinitely because of electrical and structural problems related to the fire.
"I know the young lady that owns the bar right here around the corner. Poor thing was in tears because she thought she was going to lose her bar," Lee said.
Several messages were left for Greenbox Self Storage and its parent company Focus Property Group but neither called back.
The Denver Fire Department said the two-alarm fire took nearly 45 minutes to put out. No injuries were reported.