Second arrest made in deadly fire
COLORADO SPRINGS – A second person has been arrested in an apartment fire that claimed two lives and displaced 131 people, court documents said Thursday.Derrick Nicholas Johnson, 23, of Fountain, was arrested for felony menacing but court documents said it was related to the fire, The Gazette reported. Thirty-six-year-old Gene Johnson was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the case. It wasn’t clear whether they were related.Meanwhile, a day after finding two bodies in the ashes of an apartment complex, firefighters entered the most heavily damaged section of the building on Thursday to look for any other victims.Asked whether he expected to find more bodies, Fire Marshal Brett Lacey said, “I’m not confident one way or the other.”
The cause of the fire was still unknown, but investigators say it appeared to be arson.The bodies of the two known victims remained in the structure Thursday. Lacey said they had not been identified.The fire broke out early Tuesday in the three-story, 135-unit complex, forcing some pajama-clad residents to leap from balconies. Firefighters plucked 62 people from windows.Teresa Vieira of the Red Cross said they helped 131 people and had supplied $46,000 in aid.She said the victims were fortunate the Springs of Life Church was next door. An employee opened the building shortly after the fire broke out and tenants rushed in, said Vieira. Most spent the night there.
Hospitals said they treated 31 people, including a firefighter who slipped on ice. Residents’ injuries included broken bones and sprained ankles from jumping and hypothermia from standing in 8-degree temperatures in their bed clothes.There was no clear indication whether anyone else was missing because the manager’s list of tenants burned in the fire. Lacey said he had no reports of missing people.Lacey said investigators were trying to determine whether the complex had any fire code violations before the blaze. He said the building had no sprinkler system but its windows were designed to make it easy to escape. It had been inspected on Nov. 4 of 2004John Hass, 26, said he and others in a third-floor apartment had no trouble crawling out the window.
“We tried to go out the front door, but it was too hot,” Hass said. “There were ledges that were 3 feet long, so there was plenty of room to stand.”He said they climbed down after firefighters brought a ladder.Steven Travis, 21, surveyed the wreckage Thursday, the day he had planned to move into an apartment there. A burned bicycle and barbecue grill were visible on one balcony, and the roof was collapsed over most of the building.”I really feel for the people,” he said. “I’m struggling for money, but I can always make more tomorrow. But how can they replace everything they lost?”
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