Handyman arrested 6 months after Baker neighborhood explosion injured 9

DENVER -- A man has been arrested nearly six months after an explosion destroyed a seven-unit residential building on Santa Fe Drive that left nine people injured, the Denver Fire Department said Monday.

Todd Norman Perkins, 56, was a handyman in the building at 386 N. Santa Fe Drive and was injured in the explosion on Aug. 14.

The explosion left a woman trapped in the rubble and a second person suffered critical injuries. Seven of those injured lived across the street from the explosion.

Perkins was arrested in Lakewood and is facing attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson charges, fire officials said.

Fire investigators said the explosion started within one apartment building and damage was found on several buildings on the block, including broken windows and fences.

Investigators found the shoes and shorts of Perkins reeked of gasoline and determined the explosion was intentionally caused.

Officials said Monday that a natural gas line leading to the furnace was disconnected and the valve was fully open.

A line leading to a water heater was intact but disconnected and the valve was fully open.

A natural gas line leading to a gas oven and stove was also found to be disconnected and fully open.

Officials said three cigarette lighters were found on the north end of the stairwell near the bottom step of the basement. One box of matches was found near the lighters.

Investigators said Perkins was living in a camper/shed on the southeast corner of the property. They said he had working knowledge of building components and that he routinely visited the roof of the building.

Perkins was described to be socially challenged and to have a dynamic personality. He claimed to be in the basement of the unit when the explosion occurred.

Officials said Perkins was angry with the owner of the building after having been fired because of situations involving building residents.

The day before the explosion, the owner of the building built a fence across the rear portion to keep Perkins away. Perkins then had threatened to "get even" with the building owner.

Officials believe Perkins entered the basement without permission and caused the explosion.

He is believed to have carried a small gasoline container, partially or fully filled with gasoline. He then is alleged to have used a crescent wrench to unhook the natural gas lines.

The lines were left open to allow the gas to expel, then tried to pour gasoline throughout the basement to further the explosion, officials said.

During this process, investigators believe Perkins inadvertently splashed gasoline over his clothing. Officials believe Perkins was planning to create an ignition scenario to cause the explosion.

But when he got to the top of the stairs, the natural gas and gasoline vapors ignited.

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