Construction crews are tearing down the charred remains of Tercero Townhouse, where a deadly fire torched the residential units nearly four months ago in west Durango.
Firefighters said the cause of the June 14 blaze in the 2100 block of West Third Avenue will remain undetermined.
Karola Hanks, fire marshal for the Durango Fire Protection District, said the fire started in the early morning hours on an outside deck.
“That fire will go down as undetermined,” she said. “There was no electrical fault or mechanical fault out there, so that’s where we are at.”
Kevin Abeyta, 24, was killed in the fire after running back inside to save a mother and her two children. About 20 other residents were displaced.
Abeyta lived in Unit No. 2123 with his husband, Tonny Del Solar. The fire started on their deck, Hanks said.
Hanks said there are several scenarios as to how the fire may have started, such as someone dropping a lit cigarette outside, but none can be proved.
“Even though we will close the investigation of this fire, if any future evidence comes to the forefront, that doesn’t mean it can’t be reopened,” she said. “This is no different than law enforcement.”
Tercero Townhouse owner Caroni Adams of Durango said she plans to rebuild the townhomes. Construction should be completed by June 2018.
“The units most badly damaged will be torn down completely, and so will walls around them,” she said. “Not all of the units will be torn down. You’re going to see a skeleton out there.”
The new building will have seven rental units instead of nine.
“There will only be seven units, and all of them will be three-bedroom,” Adams said.
Hanks said priority is being placed on removing asbestos found in a number of units in the townhouse.
“That abatement is step one,” she said. “Then, they will start the rebuilding process. It’s going to take some time, and there will be significant construction.”
This time, a sprinkler system will be installed throughout the building, Hanks said.
“The townhouse did not have sprinklers because it was built before those requirements,” she said. “That is an old building in terms of safety devices. It had smoke alarms, but some worked and some didn’t.”