PUEBLO, Colo. - Several storefronts in downtown Pueblo are boarded up after a fire engulfed them Tuesday night.
The fire erupted on Third Street and Court Street around 6:40 p.m. Firefighters believe the fire began in the attic of Office Systems Inc., an office supply store. Pueblo Fire Chief Dale Villers said the store shares an attic with adjacent stores, making it easy for the fire to spread.
At least two businesses were destroyed: Office Systems Inc. and Johnson's Sport and Ski. (It's unclear if a third business, a salon, had been occupied or vacant). Firefighters said three other vacant stores were also destroyed.
Tom Makovsky owns the building next to Office Systems Inc. He's thankful his vacant building survived the fire.
"When I came up last night about 9 o'clock, I thought -- it's gone," Makovsky said. "They did a fantastic job."
"At a certain point in time in there that became the priority-- let's keep the buildings that are not burning, standing," Villers said.
Witnesses told KRDO NewsChannel they heard ammunition inside Johnson's go off during the fire. No one was hurt.
The sporting good store has become a Pueblo landmark since opening in the mid-1950s.
"I can remember walking by as a small child seeing it all the time and it's just always been here, ever since I can remember," said Rebekah Taylor.
The fire drew hundreds of spectators, including evacuees. Many downtown employees were asked to evacuate on Tuesday as a precaution.
"When we came out to evacuate, I mean smoke was just pouring from every direction," said Lisa Fresquez.
Several firefighters who helped put out the fire spent Tuesday morning searching for the body of a man believed to have drowned in the Arkansas River.
"Thank goodness for the firemen. They did a great job on trying to keep that building from burning," Makovsky said.
Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire.