Cause still undetermined one year after deadly North Capitol Hill construction fire

Data pix.

DENVER – Thursday marked one year since the deadly Emerson apartment fire broke out in Denver’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood. Two construction workers died in the fire at 1833 Emerson Street.

“Coming to work today was definitely heavy on my mind,” Susie Wolcott said.

Wolcott was working at Denver Family Dental on the day of the fire. Their building had to be condemned because of the extent of the fire damage.

One year after the Emerson fire, the terrifying sight of flames leaping into the air and thick smoke still play out in Wolcott’s mind.

“There were embers falling at our feet the size of bowling balls,” Wolcott said.

After months of working out of a temporary building, Denver Family Dental has rebuilt in the same spot.

“The cabinets here, these are all original. We were able to salvage those,” Wolcott said.

When the massive blaze broke out, construction workers jumped from the third story to survive. Roberto Flores Prieto and Dustin Peterson died in the fire.

We talked to Peterson’s mother over the phone. She did not want to talk on camera. She said her family goes to the site every month and are upset their memorial was taken off the fence. She’s frustrated there is still not a clear cause.

FOX31 sat down with a Denver Fire Department captain to see if the department is any closer to determining a cause.

“It doesn’t sit well on our fire investigators,” Captain Greg Pixley said.

It’s frustrating for fire crews as well. DFD told FOX31 this case is a top priority for the department. However, it is a challenging investigation.

“We have to use that little clue and this piece of evidence and this scientific report and this eyewitness account and try to merge all that together so that we have a better understanding,” Pixley said. “It’s an unfortunate reality that we’re a year into this -- and the Denver Fire Department sends our hearts and prayers to the Prieto and Peterson family -- but we’re working hard to try to make a determination what actually caused this fire.”

Pixley said they are determined to bring closure to the victims' families - something Wolcott is hoping for too.

“Knowing how it started, is it going to change it? Make it better? Probably not, but it’d definitely be some closure,” Wolcott said.

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