Body found in search for counselor's remains

Posted at 7:08 AM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 06:24:43-05

Fire crews have found a body in the rubble left after an Arvada fire as they searched for a missing drug counselor.

Officials do not have a positive identity on the person. A coroner is on scene.

Emergency crews said earlier Monday that they exhausted all of their leads in the search for John Rutter and were at least looking for remains. They resumed the search this morning in the fire damage at a substance abuse clinic in Arvada. The fire started at the Creative Treatment Options behavioral health care clinic at around 10 a.m. Saturday. The clinic is located near West 64th Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard.

Investigators believe Rutter was in the building at the time of the fire.

Tammis Jahn, an office manager at CTO, told Denver7 four employees were at work on the day of the fire. Three of them ran in a group to get out.

"By the time we got out, it was black in the hallway, you couldn't see, couldn't breathe," Jahn said. "As we were going down the flames were coming up, so it happened within seconds." 1:02

Crews could not search the building Sunday because it was not safe. Arvada Fire brought in heavy machinery Monday to help sift through debris in the search for the missing counselor. Firefighters were also expected to use dogs.

On Saturday, the Arvada Fire District said no one was missing. Then on Sunday, investigators said one person was unaccounted for.

"John Rutter is still missing," officials with Creative Treatment Options posted on Facebook Sunday. The CTO website says Rutter was a chemical dependency counselor. He was also a father and grandfather.

"John is the person who is missing at this time. We really have no information. He was a counselor here, for I mean 10 years. He's been in the field for over 20 years," Jahn said. "Did a great job with all his clients - one of the best guys I know."

Officials say they still have no idea as to what caused the fire, but the age of the building might have contributed to the hours-long blaze.

The building did not have sprinklers, Arvada Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Marshall Deanna Harrington confirmed. According to Jahn, no one heard a fire alarm but they ran out once commotion started.

All clients got out safely, according to CTO. One person had a minor injury and was taken to a hospital for treatment. About 20 people were in the building at the time of the fire.

Jahn said the clinic helps clients with sobriety and domestic violence issues who are trying to get back into the community. They'll reopen Tuesday in different locations including 1410 Vance Street and 494 Sheridan Boulevard, Building C102, both of which are in Lakewood.

People with questions can call 303-467-2624.

"It's heartbreaking, it's heartbreaking - just all the memories and everything that everyone has gone through there. I mean papers are papers but the people that we've helped, and the memories that we've all had, to stand here for five hours the other day was heartbreaking," Jahn said.