Thornton man loses entire business in van fire

THORNTON, Colo. -- A man is devastated after he lost his entire flooring business when his work van caught fire Saturday morning, torching all his tools and supplies inside.

Mark James Villafuerte owns Home Sweet Hardwood, a small flooring business he started 14 years ago.

"Just trying to build something I could leave for my family, finally getting my business to the level it needs to be," said Villafuerte.

On Saturday morning, he went outside to head to work. He noticed smoke inside his van and as soon as he opened the back door, he was greeted by a "fire ball." Villafuerte raced trying to pull out tools and supplies and move the van away from other cars, but it was too late. He was hospitalized for severe burns on his right hand and left leg.

"Just woke up to the unimaginable. I am at a loss for words now," said Villafuerte.

He estimates he had $40,000 to $50,000 of tools and supplies stacked inside the van. While his tools are insured, he said the process replace everything is already proving to be difficult.

"You know how it is with insurance companies. You pay them all year long and then trying to get money back from them is like squeezing blood from a rock," said Villafuerta.

Thornton Police said Saturday they believed chemical-soaked rags ignited in the van, but Villafuerta said that's not true. He said his team takes meticulous steps to clean rags after projects and believes instead, the heat inside the van peaked under the blazing sun.

"I have been in this industry for 14 years. Learning how to take care of rags and combustibles is day one stuff you learn. I am totally knowledge in all that area. The only thing I can think of is the heat, how hot that was in there," said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte said he's overwhelmed by all the projects that will need to be put on hold until his burns heal. The time he spends away from work will not be covered by insurance.

"I don’t even like to ask for people’s help because I am usually the one helping people but my hands are just tied right now," said Villafuerte.

His family has set up a GoFundMe page.

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