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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Fire Department is investigating a fire on the Loretto Heights Campus that burned a huge pile of trees meant, among other things, to be recycled into benches and mulched for the public.

Two people were reportedly seen running from the pile before the blaze started yesterday morning. 

The fire in the pile of trees cut down on the Loretto Heights Campus moved fast. At first it didn’t seem like a big deal, but this was not just any pile of trees.

They were going to be recycled into things like park benches and mulch for the property being redeveloped. Other pieces were going to woodworkers and sculptors.

Denver City Council member Kevin Flynn asked the fire chief to “send arson investigators” to determine a cause.  The fire department sent a team and used its dog, which specializes in detecting petroleum products.

Several spots were marked with flags.  

Some people have been upset over the development and the removal of 188 trees on the campus being removed. The former Catholic girls school from the 1890s is now being developed into a neighborhood.

To make best use of the trees, the developer hired a company that specializes in recycling all the trees. Four trees, which are still standing, will be used in a flood mitigation project.

All the pines and cottonwoods will now serve another purpose.

“Everything is going to be completely repurposed for either mulch for the public that’s free. Everything that’s going to be hauled of offsite will be recycled at our yard,” said Mile High Tree Care General Manager and arborist Justin Scott.   

Scott says some of the timber will be milled at his facility into long beams.

“And then it will be brought back out here and then their landscape guy will turn it into benches, exercise equipment along trails and signs. All that kind of stuff,” said Scott.

The fire destroyed just one pile and slowed progress for a bit. But work continues on preserving old buildings and planting 1,000 new trees here.

Denver fire said it usually does not investigate wood pile fires but did so because of Flynn’s request.

If it’s determined the fire was set on purpose, an arson team will try and find who did it.