Several families displaced after southeast Denver fire damages townhomes

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DENVER -- A large fire damaged or destroyed seven townhomes in southeast Denver early Sunday morning, the Denver Fire Department said.

Firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire in the 3500 block of South Hillcrest Drive about 2:30 a.m.  That's just west of Interstate 25 and south of East Hampden Avenue, not far from Thomas Jefferson High School.

Everyone escaped the fire without injury.

Outside one of the townhomes, an old framed photo of a mother and son rested on the hood of a car.

“It's devastating,” said Alex Mingus, one of those affected by the fast-moving fire.

The photo, a college diploma, a drum set and a handful of other items are all Alex and Jeff Mingus have been able to salvage.

“All our clothing, all our bedding, medication, any of that stuff, it was all upstairs,” Jeff Mingus said.

The brothers were woken up around 2:30 a.m. by a pounding on their front door.

“One of our neighbors a few houses down was basically telling us, 'There's a fire next door, get out,'” Alex Mingus said.

The brothers said they had less than 10 minutes to grab whatever they could and get out.

“To think that we were here yesterday, just hanging out, you know," said Alex Mingus , looking through the charred, wet mess in his home.

Walking through the water-soaked first floor, Alex Mingus said, “This is the front hall, or what's left of it anyhow.”

But Alex Mingus is thankful everyone affected was able to get out safely.

“The whole top floor is gone.  The roof is gone,” he said.

“It will probably hit me in a day or two.  The whole, what's going on, what you’re missing, what you’re not missing -- oh, I don’t have a home to go back to now.  Like, where am I going to stay?  That's the biggest concern,” Jeff Mingus said.

Despite the fact the the bulk of their belongings are ruined, the brothers said they still have what matters most.

“It's one of those things when you call your mom at 3 in the morning saying there's a fire at our house. She’s not going to just stay home and wait to hear back from you,” Jeff Mingus said.

“Luckily on this lovely Mother's Day, our mother is so kind as to take us in,” Alex Mingus said.

The fire spread quickly to seven homes, residents said, through a connecting attic. Firefighters said it became too intense for them to try to extinguish it from inside the units, so they fought it from outside. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control within an hour.

Residents said it appeared the fire started in a townhouse that was recently vacated.  Fire investigators said a cause is still under investigation.

Three families were out of their homes as a result of the damage. Family of the Mingus brothers have set up a fundraiser to help them get back on their feet.

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