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Woman remembers beloved dog killed in Denver building explosion

Melissa Banks lost everything when her building exploded on Aug. 10, including one of her dogs
Melissa Banks and Vinny
Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-15 21:26:14-04

DENVER — Residents who lost everything after an explosion at a fourplex in Denver's Washington Park West neighborhood are still working to start over, more than a month later.

The explosion happened Aug. 10 in the 400 block of South Lincoln Street, near the intersection with E. Dakota Ave. One person was injured, a dog was killed and eight families were displaced, according to the Denver Fire Department.

Melissa Banks, a tenant in the building, said she had lived there for about two months and was home at the time of the explosion.

She said she was at home resting in her bedroom after working late and was with her two dogs by her side, Vinny and Satori, when the explosion occurred.

"Literally next thing you know, I'm covered and smacked by the house, covered in concrete. Everything was black and I was buried alive," Banks told Denver7 Friday.

Banks said her dog, Vinny, a bull terrier, did not survive.

"I looked over to where my dogs were on the bed and I could see Vinny on the bed. I didn't...— I didn't know for sure it was him," said Banks as she broke down in tears. "My glasses had gotten knocked off so I couldn't really see. But I guess I knew it was him."

Banks said her two dogs were inseparable.

"Vinny was something else, he was he's the coolest dog you'd ever meet," Banks said.

She's now trying to cope with the heart-wrenching loss while trying to stay strong for her dog Satori.

"Vinny was the older brother. She didn't know life without Vinny, really. We got him when she was four or five months old. She feels my energy. So I've got to fake a smile — you know what I mean? I've got to pretend to be happy even when I'm when I'm not," she said.

Banks said a month after the explosion, things have not gotten any easier, she is still facing financial obstacles, trauma from the explosion and is having to stay in a hotel until she figures out what to do next.

Her friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her out during the difficult time. If you'd like to donate, click here.

Denver's Community Planning and Development department said clean-up has been delayed because they have not been able to get in contact with the building's owner, a company called DPC, LLC, out of Michigan.

Spokesperson Amanda Weston told Denver7 the city has sent the property owner two notices to comply but have not heard back.

The owner of the fourplex must bring in an engineer to determine if the building can be fixed or if it has to be demolished.

Weston said if they still don't hear back from the property owner, they'll have to figure out what other steps to take.

The Denver Fire Department said the cause of the explosion is still under investigation. However, officials said natural gas is being looked at as a possibility.

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