Apartment building catches fire in southeastern Colorado Springs

A fire broke out in a first-floor apartment at the El Vicino Apartments in southeastern Colorado Springs Wednesday afternoon. / Colorado Springs Fire Department
A fire broke out in a first-floor apartment at the El Vicino Apartments in southeastern Colorado Springs Wednesday afternoon. / Colorado Springs Fire Department

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Dozens of people had to evacuate an apartment building in southeastern Colorado Springs Wednesday afternoon after it caught on fire. 

The Colorado Springs Fire Department got a call for a structure fire at about 2:40 p.m. in an apartment at the El Vecino Apartments on Monterey Road, near the intersection with South Circle Drive. They arrived in just minutes as flames were coming from the first floor with smoke pouring out.

“At that point in time we did know we had one patient possibly in the fire apartment,” Fire Captain Steve Oswald said.

The person was evacuated and six people were checked for smoke inhalation and other injuries, but none were taken to the hospital.

“We currently have one fire unit and then we’ll have several other units adjacent,” Oswald said.

The fire broke out in an apartment on the first floor of the three-story building. One neighbor said he only had a few minutes to get out.

“We were two doors down from the fire,” Lance Green said.

He said the fire alarms started going off, which has happened before, but this time was different.

“Just about every one of them started going off and I started hearing someone yell ‘Is there anybody in there?’ and I thought ‘Oh I guess there really is a fire’,” Green said.

That’s when he started to escape.

“I opened the door and all this smoke came in and we were like ‘uh-oh we’ve got to get the hell out of here’,” Green said

But it wasn’t easy for him.

“Going through the smoke was the worst part,” Green added. “Obviously, you can’t breathe. I couldn’t see because the light that they had there was out.”

Green said eventually someone grabbed his hand and was able to lead him out. Firefighters said four ambulances, a hazmat team and 40 firefighters responded to the fire.

Smoke alarms near and in the fire unit were reported to be working, but an additional follow up will be required to confirm the status throughout the building. It is not a building wide system, so only alarms detecting smoke would sound. Occupants located in a part of the building without smoke would not be alerted.

CSFD Fire Investigators have ruled the fire as accidental, stating the cause of fire was the improper disposal of smoking material.

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