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Wheat Ridge family speaks out after flame from candle leads to house fire

Posted at 11:58 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 08:44:11-04

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- It only took a matter of minutes for a Wheat Ridge house to become completely engulfed in flames. A small candle next to a curtain was the catalyst for the family's entire life to go up in smoke.

"It was the most frightening thing I have ever been through," said Aaron Richardville. "The flames just started pouring out of the top and it went so fast before there was anything we could even do about it."

He and his family are lucky to be alive. The fire took place during his grandfather's 88th birthday celebration on Saturday. Peters Richardville turned 88 on Friday. Of the 20 attendees at the party, 10 were in the house when the flames started, including Peters.

"It just did not register for him. He did not realize the danger. And that is just the way that dementia works," Aaron said.

A Nest security camera captured the harrowing moments when family members ushered Peters away from the flames as he was eating lunch. Aaron said his aunt was leaving but had forgotten her purse in the room and saw the fire when she went to get it.

"We would not have been able to get in here if it were 30 seconds later," he said.

His niece, who had been outside, ran inside the home to save Aaron's puppy and brother, he said.

Many of the family's possessions are lost forever, and Peters is without a home during his dementia.

"People are the only things that are important," said Richardville. "The possessions, everything can be replaced. But had people not made quick decisions and acted instantly, and stayed calm, it would not have been that outcome."

He said the family tried to use a fire extinguisher, but it had expired and fizzled out very quickly.

He says next time, he will be prepared.

"The most important thing is to have a plan," he said. "If you have got a family with kids, have a plan for how you are going to get out of there."

A contractor will come to the house Tuesday afternoon to survey the damage.