Fire destroys luxury town homes under construction in west Denver

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DENVER -- Luxury town homes under construction were destroyed in an early-morning fire near Sports Authority Field at Mile High caught fire on Thursday, the Denver Fire Department said.

The three-alarm fire started just before 2 a.m. near West 19th Avenue and Grove Street.

Two buildings under construction -- each with seven units -- were destroyed and one residential building to the north suffered damage. The family in the residential building were able to safely escape.

"This was a significant fire and anytime you have a building that’s under construction, it has the possibility of catching fire easier, than say, you or I’s home," said Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley. "There’s no finished material on here. It’s sticks. It’s just boards. When you expose heat to that than it can ignite and takes off very quickly."

When crews arrived, they went on the defensive, trying to protect more structures to the south of the fire.

By 3 a.m., most of the outside fire was contained and crews worked to knock down the fire on the inside.

An area around the structures that burned was evacuated. No injuries were reported.

"I can’t say I’ve ever experience anything like it. It was insane. You could feel the heat just bouncing off the building," Jennifer Atkielski told FOX31.

She lives one home over from the fire. The heat from it was so strong it damaged her girlfriend's car and the siding on her home.

"I’m extremely grateful, just having a fire department that controlled a massive fire like that so quick and without even having it spread, so close next door...I’m extremely thankful," Atkielski said.

As of Thursday afternoon, she and many other neighbors didn't have power. This includes Nate Milne, who watched the fire from his rooftop less than a block away.

"I had never seen a fire that big in my life," Milne said. "I was actually on the roof deck during the fire and it was getting a little to hot to be up there.

"The smoke was coming up over the house and it was too hot to be up there. You could feel you were standing right next to it."

Federal Boulevard was closed in both directions as fire crews worked to clear the area but reopened about 6 a.m.

During the day, firefighters brought in heavy machinery to knock down walls and make sure the structure was safe for investigators. They couldn't begin their work until later in the day, after the hotspots were all extinguished.

Each unit in the Denver Grove development would have three bedrooms and three bathrooms and were scheduled to be completed in late spring.

The town homes were being developed by Australian Development Consortium and were to be listed by Kentwood City Properties.

A broker at Kentwood City Properties said none of the town homes had been bought by the public. The developer was holding one and 13 were still for sale.

The broker said it was probably two to three months away from being completed. The drywall had not been hung yet.

The broker added the construction was high quality and the agency had not heard what sparked the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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