One person was killed and another was injured in an apartment fire Sunday night at the Piñon Heights
apartments in Durango.
Authorities were trying to positively identify the victim before releasing names. The apartment is owned James
"Daniel" Middleton and Robert Middleton, according to county records.
Robert Middleton has another address in Durango, and efforts to reach him Monday for comment were unsuccessful.
The blaze was reported at 11:09 p.m. in apartment 422, on the second floor.
Kirby Bryant, who lives in the apartment below the one that caught fire, said he woke up to a bright orange glow
outside. He grabbed his two children, ages 5 and 6, and put them in a truck. While leaving the apartment, he saw two
men on the porch upstairs.
"They weren't yelling for help," he said. "They were saying, 'Don't call 911. We can put it out.'"
When he returned to retrieve some coats and blankets, he saw thick black smoke billowing from the balcony and only
one man standing there.
"It went really fast," Bryant said. "It was huge, and it was quick. It was just bright; that's what woke me up."
Responding agencies included the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, Durango Police Department, Upper Pine River
Fire Protection District and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The 12 units that make up one complex at the Pinon Heights apartments were evacuated and remained evacuated Monday.
Jackie D'Aleo, who owns a condo downstairs and cattycorner from the one that caught fire, said the primary tenant was
not a good neighbor. He had people who would come and go who were "not desirable."
Colt Riefenberg, another neighbor, said the occupant of the fire was distant and didn't talk much. The only time
Riefenberg saw him was when he was coming and going from the Manna Soup Kitchen, a short distance away.
On Sunday night, Jim Meyer, who lives in apartment 213, a unit opposite to where the fire broke out, said he heard
sirens, and when he came out saw neighbors trying to assist a man who had fled the burning apartment. The man said
his roommate was still in the burning building.
"He said they were both sleeping," Meyer said of the man who fled the apartment. "He was only in shorts, no shoes, and he was covered in black. He said his roommate was still in the building."
Meyer said police were going door-to-door warning tenants and telling them to evacuate the building.
"You could see flames in the living room. I wouldn't want to go through the front door, and I'm a volunteer fireman,"
Abercrombie said the fire spread to at least two additional units, but a more comprehensive damage report would be
Flames shooting 20 feet high in the hillside were visible on the west side of the Animas River around 11 p.m.
Sunday, when the fire broke out.
Carmen Dille-Hachmann, disaster service chairwoman for the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross, said
13 people were displaced by the fire, and all but three residents had found some place to stay early Monday morning.
The Red Cross would provide shelter for three residents, she said.
Tamara Flanery, a Fort Lewis College student who lives in apartment 424, two doors down from where the fire broke
out, said she heard a police officer pounding on doors downstairs. "I could just hear her pounding. I had the TV on, but I could hear her say, 'Everybody come out. You just have to get out.'"
Flanery was dog-sitting for a friend, with whom she planned to go out to see a movie.
"I had a paper to write so I stayed. If I didn't have that paper to write, I'd have gone to, and we would have left
the dog alone in the apartment."