Residents bounce out of the home windows to flee the fireplace within the Aurora house. 1 lifeless – The Denver Submit

Jaime De Loera and Sergio Gallegos watched people jump out of third-floor windows as they sprinted around the Aurora apartment building to help people escape the flames that engulfed it early Friday morning.

They threw stones at window panes, hoping to alert people inside of the danger. They tore off iron bars blocking the windows on the first floor. They tried to help the people who jumped.

“A lot of people were passed out on the ground,” said De Loera.

The duo were among dozens of residents who returned Friday morning to reclaim some of their possessions from an Aurora apartment building where an early morning fire killed a woman and made the homes of about 60 people uninhabitable. Aurora firefighters responded to the fire in the three-story building at 1600 Galena Street just before midnight.

Many of the residents fled the apartment wearing nothing but their pajamas, ran down smoke-covered hallways, or climbed ladders more than 50 feet. The block still smelled of smoke hours later and black burn marks charred the exterior of the red brick building in some places. Videos recorded by residents during the fire showed high flames blazing out of the building.

Andy Cross, the Denver Post

Rosalva Rocha, left, is comforted by her daughter Suzy Rocha after an early morning fire in the Galena Apartments on October 30, 2020. Rosalva jumped out of her window on the second floor to escape the fire.

41-year-old Cesar Vasquez jumped out his third-floor window after discovering the hallway was too smoky to navigate. He and his daughter woke up after someone knocked on their door. Roxanna Vasquez, 15, watched her father jump from the window and hit the floor. She later went down a ladder safely, and her father suffered only minor injuries to his foot and face.

“It was terrifying to see him fall,” she said.

Thirteen people were screened for injuries on site and three were taken to a nearby hospital, the Aurora Fire Department said. Two were listed in serious condition and one later died, officials said in a press release.

About 70 people live in the 17-unit building, said Niceforo Guttierez, who has owned the building for about 22 years. He did not know how many of the units were destroyed Friday morning, but said they are all uninhabitable for the near future.

Children’s toys, clothing and DVDs fell out of the building’s windows as residents tried to quickly recover their belongings after being let into the building around 11 a.m. on Friday. Vasquez dropped construction tools from his third-floor window, including a nail gun.

  • Andy Cross, the Denver Post

    Displaced persons investigate fire damage in the Galena Apartments on October 30, 2020.

  • Andy Cross, the Denver Post

    After an early morning fire in the Galena Apartments, Ulises Gallegos carried belongings from his aunt’s apartment on October 30, 2020. Gallegos lives above his aunt and had a short time to vacate both apartments.

  • Andy Cross, the Denver Post

    A young man searches for objects in a burned-out apartment on the third floor after an early morning fire in the Galena Apartments on October 30, 2020.

  • Andy Cross, the Denver Post

    Omar De Lira (left) and Esperanza Flores (right) help a friend clear his apartment after an early morning fire in the Galena Apartments on October 30, 2020.

  • Andy Cross, the Denver Post

    Cousins ​​Rosemary Santos (left) and Melissa Santos (right) took personal belongings out of their apartments after an early morning fire in the Galena Apartments on October 30, 2020.

Osvaldo Garibay, 24, fled the apartment without his pajama pants and shoes. The neighbors gave him a shirt and sweatshirt to keep warm after the family climbed the ladders from their third-floor apartment.

They stayed with relatives after the fire but do not know where they will live in the long term. His family has lived in the building for 9 years, Garibay said.

“Where are we going to stay?” he said. “We’re all missing work right now.”

Vans were brought in to keep the displaced warm before the Red Cross arrived to help.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, said Aurora Fire Rescue.

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