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6 injured, many residents displaced after fire at Wind River Place apartments

Wind River Place Apartment fire
Posted at 4:28 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 07:32:13-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Some residents at a building the the Wind River Place Apartments are spending this Thanksgiving in hotel rooms.

Six people were injured in an apartment fire Wednesday afternoon on the west side of Colorado Springs. Many more who lived in the building are looking for another place to stay during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, Colorado Springs Police Officers and the Metro Crime Lab kept most of the apartment's parking lot blocked off with caution tape while investigating the scene. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

The fire was first reported at around 4:00 p.m. at the Wind River Place Apartments on North 19th Street. When firefighters arrived, smoke was coming from a unit on the third floor.

Zoi Ouellette lives on the third floor and said that he arrived home just seconds before all of the emergency vehicles rushed to the scene.

"I saw that my neighbor's apartment was billowing smoke, I wondered what in the hell was going on," Ouellette said.

Ouellette found a dog-friendly hotel room for Thanksgiving night.

"I'd actually gotten two Cornish game hens that I was going to make and got a whole bunch of fixins' for it. I was going to make one for me and one for my dog, but that's kind of up in the air right now because of course we can't go back in there."

All six of the people who were injured were transported to local hospitals for treatment. One of them suffered serious burns and was later flown to the regional burn center in Denver.

Brian Ebmeyer, a medical lieutenant with the Colorado Springs Fire Department, told reporters that two of the six who were injured had jumped from the third floor. He said it's not safe to jump from such a height and offered people advice if they ever find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

"Close your door to the fire if a fire is not in your apartment, get to a window, open a window and make us aware of you're whereabouts and we will get you out," he said.

It took roughly 20 minutes to put the fire out. Crews remained on the scene to put out hot spots.

During the initial response, a group of Colorado Springs Police Officers went door-to-door helping residents in the building to evacuate. Lt. Ebmeyer said one of the officers was later examined at the scene after being exposed to smoke from the fire.

John Koch, Commander of the CSPD's Gold Hills Division, said the officer and others were treated on scene and didn't have significant injuries.

He explained that officers will join the fire department as part of the team investigating where and how the fire started.

"The police department is involved because anytime someone is injured in a fire we work with the fire department and several agencies to determine first what caused that fire and then what level of injuries people have to determine if we have a criminal event or something else," said Koch.

Lt. Ebmeyer said all of the residents who lived in the building were displaced by the fire. The city's Office of Emergency Management is working with the Red Cross to provide temporary shelter for those who need it.

Firefighters rescued a number of cats from the building.

Ouilette said he and his dog became separated but later reunited. He's trying to keep a level head about everything that's happened.

"You know it sucks to lose your property. But at the end of the day, property can be replaced. Lives and health, not so much."

This is a developing story.
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