Man dies in house fire, explosion followed

11:43 PM, Jan 1, 2012   |    comments
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Firefighters suspect that explosion was caused by an oxygen tank, but they still haven't determined what caused the initial fire.

"I was the first one to get here," West Metro Fire Division Chief Gary Armstrong said.

Armstrong just happened to be right up the street when 911 calls came in about a fire, but even in the few seconds it took him to get there it was too late.

"I was at the corner of Alameda and Parfet when the call came in so I turned down this street and looked through the main window at the front of the house and saw a couch that was burning in the living room that became fully involved," Armstrong said.

Firefighters say the man died on that couch.

Neighbors say he was in his late 50's, was a smoker, and used oxygen tanks because he had breathing difficulties.

"He's been on Oxygen for a while and his daughter is a wonderful girl," neighbor Karen Dea said.

Dea says the man's wife died about 5 years ago and he lived at the home with his daughter.

When firefighters arrived they said a woman was outside on the lawn.

She escapted the fire unharmed.

"It absolutely rattles you. It's certainly troubling. It would have been nice if I had a fire engine, but would it have resulted in a different outcome? I honestly don't think so based on what I first saw when I got here," Armstrong said.

Investigators spent the night looking for what may have started the fire.

Neighbors say they're devastated, but say things could have been worse had the fire happened a day earlier.

"I'm glad it wasn't yesterday the wind was really blowing through here. It blew down fences and we were without power for a while. If it had happened yesterday my house would have gone up too and who knows what else," Dea said.

Winds in that part of Lakewood were between 65 and 75 miles per hour on Saturday according to 9NEWS meteorologist Kathy Sabine.

Neighbors say this is a tough way for their neighborhood to begin the new year.

"It's a real loss to the whole neighborhood he's just a kind man, gentle and we'll miss him a lot," Dea said.

A family member at the scene said the family is not commenting on the fire at this point.

As of Sunday night, authorities had not released the victim's name.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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