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Boulder Fire ‘cautiously optimistic’ there were no fatalities in massive condo fire on Pearl Street

All residents accounted for by noon Wednesday, BPD officials say
Boulder fire on Pearl Street Oct 19 2021
Posted at 4:30 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 11:49:49-04

BOULDER, Colo. – Fire officials in Boulder said Wednesday they were “cautiously optimistic” there were no fatalities after Tuesday’s massive condominium fire on Pearl Street.

Investigators at the scene were able to account for all residents Wednesday by working through the night to contact all the residents of the 81-unit complex at 2301 Pearl St. They were able to account for all of them by noon, according to City of Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley.

“This was a tremendously challenging and consuming fire. I am surprised and relieved to be able to say that it appears we had no deaths,” Fire-Rescue Chief Michael Calderazzo said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

Fire personnel searched through rubble Wednesday and that work is expected to continue for the next several days. The area remains unsafe for residents to recover property, and a section of the street remains closed to the public, Huntley said.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Huntley said firefighters were still working to contain hotspots and added she could not provide information as to the origin or the cause of the fire, as that's an ongoing investigation that could take a number of weeks to conclude.

Answering a reporter's question about rumors that not all the fire alarms activated, she said sprinklers and fire alarms where the fire burned hottest did, in fact, activate, helping people escape, but that not all of them all designed to activate.

In closing remarks, Huntley said the city was incredibly grateful to all first responders who answered the call Tuesday. She also said the city would do all it could to help the residents affected by the fire as she believes residents will have to start over given the intensity of the blaze.

Calderazzo thanked the heroic efforts by residents and city officers who were patrolling the downtown area early Tuesday. He said the first officer arrived on scene at 3:35 a.m. – three minutes after the first call was made to police. In total, 12 BPD officers responded to the scene and ran into the complex as the fire was raging, helping dozens of residents to safety from more than 60 units.

“Recognizing the danger of the intense, rapidly spreading fire, and without hesitation, our officers ran into the building. They encountered heavy smoke, flames, and terrified residents. If not for such quick and heroic actions by these officers and our partners, many lives would have likely been lost,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Redfearn said. “I am grateful for their courage and quick response.”

Officers from CU Boulder Police and deputies with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office also responded to assist with evacuations and the fire scene.

This was truly an example of public safety partnership,” Calderazzo said. “This fire burned hot and fast. The ability to get people out of harm’s way quickly made all the difference in terms of injuries and lives lost.”

Officials said that while there were some initial reports of residents sustaining minor injuries while fleeing the fire, it has since been determined that no injuries occurred.

Residents affected by this fire have been able to find temporary housing as well as support services, largely through the American Red Cross of the Mile High Area. If you'd like to help, you may do so by donating directly to the American Red Cross, by calling 1-800-435-7669, or texting REDCROSS to 90999. The Red Cross is not accepting clothing donations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It's incredible to hear that everybody got out and everyone's safe,” said Tom Buswell, a resident who lost his condo in the fire. “It's all replaceable, and I'm happy to still have my community and my friends and my family — that's the most important thing.”

Buswell, a musician, lost all of his instruments in the fire. He says the Colorado music community has helped to support him over the past two days.

“I'm really grateful for the community here, the music community in in Boulder and the Front Range of Colorado is incredible,” he said. “Folks really look out for each other.”

Officials said displaced residents who have a key to their vehicle will be allowed to access and retrieve their vehicle tomorrow between 10 a.m. and noon. Those residents should meet detectives along the fence on the west side of 2301 Pearl St. during this designated time.

Residents who do not currently have a key to their vehicle will be given a separate time to access their vehicles, likely early next week. Police will provide additional details when they become available.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation,” Calderazzo said Wednesday. “We owe it to the residents and all those impacted by this tragedy to take our time and complete the steps necessary before releasing any updates about a possible cause.”

Several agencies including Boulder Fire-Rescue, Boulder Police, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, University of Colorado-Boulder Police Department, Boulder Rural Fire Rescue, Louisville Fire Protection District, Mountain View Fire Department, Boulder Emergency Squad and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), assisted in Tuesday’s operations.