Originally published in The Metropolitan March 5, 2009
A Denver recycling company, just blocks away from Auraria student housing, suffered more than $50,000 worth of damages after a fire ripped through the facility underneath the intersection of Interstate 25 and Colfax Avenue, early the morning of March 3.
“The flames were higher than the highway,” Denver Fire Department Assistant Chief Tom Conner said.
The fire started at about midnight and was first reported by motorists on the Interstate, he said.
The owner of All Recycling Solutions, Pamela Pacheco, said she suspected the fire was started by a transient or gang member. She said several transients had made camp along the train tracks that border her building. Gangs have recently been tagging her building and trucks as well, she said.
Pacheco said her business had leased the property at 1835 W. Colfax Ave. for four and a half years. The Campus Village is only a half a mile away.
“There was a need for this (type of business) in Denver,” she said.
Conner said the fire department’s investigation was ongoing and suggested a cause for the fire would not be determined.
“There’s a good chance we won’t know,” he said.
The fire was contained by 30 firefighters by about 1 a.m. About a dozen firefighters remained on the scene to extinguish the remaining flames.
A second fire started at about 2:30 a.m. on the opposite side of the Colfax building. Authorities said they believe, but could not confirm, the blaze was started by transients discarding cigarette butts. It spread and was contained quickly, Conner said.
Investigators on the scene would not immediately comment on whether the two fires were related or if there were any suspects. Investigators referred all questions to a public information officer, who could not be reached for comment.
However, Pacheco said she saw three men running west from the scene.
An unidentified firefighter said the damaged garbage outside of the building where the first fire started was compacted and would have to be picked apart and soaked block by block.
The company recycles metal, fibers and plastics. Pacheco said the company has saved thousands of pounds of garbage from landfills each month.
She said most of the garbage behind her building that was destroyed was to be shipped out.
“I just can’t believe someone could do this,” she said.
One of the companies’ trucks was totaled. Damage was also done to the inside of the building.