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Montbello resident 'devastated' by house fire likely sparked by errant fireworks

Denver Fire: Case may be difficult to solve
Posted at 1:59 AM, Jul 06, 2019

DENVER -- Katherine Davis couldn't believe it when she opened her front door Wednesday night and saw the the bushes out front and the side of her garage engulfed in flames.

She was paralyzed with fear.

The 70-year old Montbello resident told Denver7 she had just walked out of her bathroom and noticed a bright red glow in the window.

"I thought, what's happening," she said, "then I heard a big boom."

When Davis opened her front door, she saw the hedge, and her SUV, engulfed in flames, and fire licking at the exterior walls of her garage.

"They were were just blazing," she said.

Three good Samaritans helped get her out of her house, past the burning bushes, to safety.

On Friday, Davis's eyes welled with tears as she recounted the rescue effort.

"I want to thank the people who got me out," she said, "because I might have gotten burned if they hadn't been there."

Witness Account

One of the good Samaritans, William Birkett, was driving home, when he noticed sparks from an exploding firework close to the ground.

"I pulled in just to make sure everything was okay," he said. "A fire alarm was going off, but it didn't seem like anything was wrong, so I flipped around to head out and not even a minute later there was a fire that had started in a neighbor's yard."

Birkett said while a neighbor used a garden hose, he ran up with his water bottles to try to help.

"We were doing our best," he said, "but it was like out of control."

Birkett said the flames spread from the hedge to the car in the driveway and then to the garage.

"Someone was screaming from the front door, and we were screaming to have her get out, but she just wouldn't exit," he said.

That's when he and two other men ran up to her front door.

As the other two good Samaritans escorted her out, Birkett pushed back against the hedge so they could squeeze through.

He then ran back up to the door to make sure no one else was in the house.

"I just would just hope that someone would do the same thing for me if I was in that situation," he said. "I'm just glad everybody got out out of there safely."

Family Seeks Answers

Davis is temporarily staying at her sister's house in Aurora.

She said she hasn't returned home yet to assess damage, because her emotions are still too raw.

Family members say they want answers.

They want to know with certainty if it was fireworks that triggered the blaze, and they want to know who is responsible, and whether that person or persons will be held accountable.

Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley said it was reported that this firework came from a couple blocks away.

"It's difficult for us to narrow down sometimes when you have any number of fireworks going off at one time." he said.

Pixley added that unless they can find a witness who saw a specific individual light the firework, and then saw the firework land in the hedge, it might be difficult to make an illegal fireworks charge stick.

"In terms of what we've seen in years past," he said, "when you have any number of fireworks going off all night long, by the time we arrive on scene, it's hard for us to know who might have lit that firework."

"That's kind of devastating," said Joyce Tucker, Davis's sister. "The damage has been done. There is emotional and stressful damage, as well as the cosmetic damage to her home."

Minor Injuries

The victim told Denver7 that she was scratched and is still a little sore from being carried through the bushes, but she is grateful for the men who put their own safety at risk to help her.

"It's been a very emotional time for us,"said Davis's sister, Joyce Tucker. "Lots of family members have called and wished her well and everything, but it's still very emotional and very fresh in her mind what went on."

GoFundMe

Family members have set up a GoFundMe account to help the 70-year old pay for repairs.

They said it is irresponsible set off fireworks without concern about the damage or injury they can cause.

"To land in someone's house where it destroys their property, is totally irresponsible," Ms. Tucker said.

Capt. Pixley said if they do find the person responsible, "they could be subject to a year in jail and a one thousand dollar fine."

He added that those who willfully use illegal fireworks should think about the consequences, and not just to themselves.

"It's important for us to look out for our fellow citizens," he said.