‘The escape of people from 81 units is miraculous’: Boulder first responders thankful no one was killed in fire

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — There’s still a lot of cleanup and investigation to take place, but first responders in Boulder say everyone who lived at the now-destroyed Whittier Place Condominiums has been accounted for.

“This was a tremendously challenging and consuming fire. I am surprised and relieved to be able to say that it appears we had no deaths,” Fire Rescue Chief Michael Calderazzo said Wednesday.

Watch the full press conference on FOX31 NOW.

Fire investigators haven’t been able to get to all parts of the complex, and they said it is not safe for residents to go back inside any areas yet.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working at the scene to assist local investigators at this point. A spokesperson said none of the residents have shared information that has pointed them toward a cause or specific origin at this point.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation,” Calderazzo said Wednesday. “We owe it to the residents and all those impacted by this tragedy to take our time and complete the steps necessary before releasing any updates about a possible cause.”

Investigators said there were functioning sprinklers and alarm systems in the area where the fire was burning hottest, but they may not have activated in areas that were less impacted.

“It’s a miracle,” City of Boulder spokesperson Sarah Huntley said. “The escape of people from 81 units is miraculous.”

Huntley credits alarms, sprinklers and fast response by fire crews and police for saving lives.

“In many cases, they had to flee without their belongings and precious memories from their lives,” she said. 

It is unknown if any pets were killed in the fire, but one living cat was found in the area on Wednesday.

Residents will need help as even with insurance, they will face challenges in obtaining housing and even basic necessities. 

Pre-med student Nevin Fowler told FOX31 he woke up to a nightmare when he smelled smoke and heard people running in the hall.

“I peered out the window and it was just massive flames,” he said.

He quickly escaped but feared the worst when he saw the extent of the damage.

“That was our one thing, I hope everyone made it out okay,” he said.

Neighbors remain stunned by this destruction, charred walls and unrecognizable belongings. The buildings included private, short- and long-term rentals.

One nearby resident told FOX31, “it could happen anywhere, scary.”

An underground parking garage at the complex did not have major damage, and displaced residents who have a key to their car will be able to access their vehicles on Thursday between 10 a.m. and noon. Boulder public safety is seeing what can be done to help residents who don’t have keys to retrieve their cars.

People who wish to help the fire victims are asked to donate directly to the Red Cross. For more information, please go to redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669),  or text REDCROSS to 90999. Unfortunately, the Red Cross is not accepting clothing donations currently due to COVID. 

Fundraisers opened for Boulder fire victims

GoFundMe has verified the following fundraisers for victims of the fire:

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