A fire Thursday morning on the 400 block of Washington Street at an apartment complex sent one person to the hospital and left 11 families temporarily displaced.

Photo by Jerry Raehal

A fire Thursday morning on the 400 block of Washington Street at an apartment complex sent one person to the hospital and left 11 families temporarily displaced.

Fire displaces local families


— It was a scene that changed dramatically from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.

Instead of a fire peaking through the north side of the 12-unit complex at the 485 Washington Street apartments, as it did in the morning, charred wood, broken windows, ash-strewn walkways and strong stench of smoke took its place in the afternoon.

Instead of tenants holding each other in solemn embraces, watching as their building burned, tenants were now coming back to the location with looks of resolve on their faces, seeking to salvage what they could.

And instead of onlookers stopping and parking their cars to get a better look at the building set ablaze, people were now stopping and approaching Dan Bingham, the Red Cross area lead, asking how they could help.

"I get a lot of people who are asking, 'what can we do?'" he said. "And you know, that's Craig. : We're going to need to help from the community on this. We really are."

The morning fire sent a female tenant and a firefighter to the hospital. The firefighter suffered minor injuries due to heat exhaustion, said Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Chris Nichols, and has been released. The woman's condition was not available due to privacy laws.

The fire also left 11 families without a place to call home.

"The entire place is condemned until further notice," Nichols said.

How the fire started cannot be verified, Nichols said, but it is believed that a personal oxygen tank - found inside the apartment of the woman who was transported to the hospital - was part of the cause.

The Fire Department and the Craig Police Department were alerted to the fire at 6:57 a.m. Nichols said the fire was under control by 8 a.m. and contained by 9 a.m.

Fifteen firefighters, three engines and two trucks responded to the scene.

Eight of the 12 units in the complex suffered heavy damage from the blaze, Nichols said.

No monetary estimates on how much damage the fire caused to the building or to people's personal property were available.

The Red Cross was on scene throughout the day, coordinating efforts for the fire victims.

By the afternoon, Bingham said all the families he contacted had found a place to temporally stay, though there were still a couple of more families that he needed to contact.

"The community has taken almost everyone in," he said

Bingham said the apartment complex owner was also looking at some of his other properties to possibly relocate the victims.

"We want to get everyone's deposit back as soon as possible and get all the information out on where they can stay," said Jim Dougherty, member manager of Jay and Jay Properties, the company who has owned the building since 2002.

With temporary housing and getting stability for the families coming together, the next step is helping them get on with their lives, Bingham said, as many of the families likely lost clothing and personal items.

Peggy Satterwhite of the Community Budget Center, 555 Yampa Ave., said the business is setting up a spot where people can donate items - from clothing to furniture - specifically for the families involved in the fire.

"They will be the collection point for clothing, pots and pans, bedding - everything that you need to live by," Bingham said. Some items families "are going to be desperate for" include clothing for a 2-year-old girl, "and everything that goes with that," he added.

He also noted a 5-year old girl was part of one of the families.

Bank of Colorado representatives have said a donation site has been set up at its location in the name of the "Washington Street fire."

Bingham said people can donate money to the Red Cross as well, at 120 Saturn Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525.

The Red Cross is conducting victim interviews today to find out what the families will need, and will release that information afterward.

"All the tenants I've talked to just want to get back on their feet," Dougherty said. "And it was uplifting to see people just really want to get the problem solved."


PJ Howe 9 years, 6 months ago

Other than helping to find housing (which the private market took care of quickly), the Red Cross should never be needed in an apartment complex fire. These tenants should all be calling their insurance providers to get the cash necessary to replace their belongings. But let me guess, none of them could afford renters insurance although it only costs about $200 per year. Living is a responsibility, especially when you have children. Look at the position they're in now becuase of their lack of concern for their own well being and safety. I bet all these people had really nice TV's and cell phones though.


wagontrain79 9 years, 6 months ago

This is in response to the ignorant comment left by "however"! I can easily see why this individual remains anonymous, He/She can not face others when talking about them! It is easy for someone not in the situation to critisize what they do not know. I personaly have family that was affected by this fire and they are nothing like what you describe. Have you ever lost everything? Well they did! Have you walked in their shoes? Do you know how important that $200 dollars a year can be to some families, in some cases that 15 or 20 dollars a month may mean a whole lot. It is easy to critisize when you are not affected or when you are in a situation where paying out money is not a burden. I hope you or those you know and love are never subject to a loss of this kind and that if you are you find help from those with a true heart and not just rude comments from those like you. Next time you should think before you open your mouth.


gramdee44 9 years, 6 months ago

Thank-you wagontrain79. My grandson was also amoung the tenants that lost everything. The things he treasured could not be replaced by renters insurance. He did get a few treasures out, but lost most of his house hold things and clothes are damaged I think beyond repair.. I have owned my home for over 30 years so I never thought of mentioning renters insurance to him. When I was young I rented and never thought of insuring the few things I had. Life teaches us lots of lesson.....I feel sorry for that person we only know as 'however' aparently that person hasn't learned the lesson of kindness. All we can do is feel sorry for the poor sole!! I wish the best to all these folk in their time of loss. All my thought are with them.....keep you chins up and lets hope each new day will get better for you. Sending lots of love to you all Gramma DEE


PJ Howe 9 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely amazing. Lets completely resolve all responsibility to these families. Its great they live in a community that will replace their poor life planning. A comminuty that will step up and give them the things they should be going out and buying new from their insurance money. I've been in much worse financial situations then those in that building, and always, always carried renters, homeowners, auto, life and health insurance. The sacrifices we made to be able to do that were great. The money can be found to purchase these necessities, it depends on what their priorities are. Obviously, their priorities lay elsewhere. I bet they don't get renters insurance in the future either.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.