Local News

'Flammable substance' found in apartment where fire killed two

PUEBLO, Colo. - Police say an unknown flammable substance was found in the kitchen of an apartment where a mother and her child died in a fire Christmas morning.

The substance was found near the stove, which is where investigators say the fire started. It has been sent to a lab for analysis. Police say it will take several weeks for those results to come back.

Investigators said the fire started at about 4:30 a.m. on December 25, 2013 in an apartment on the 300 block of East Evans Avenue. When firefighters arrived, they found the building engulfed in flames. 

The coroner identified the victims as Natasha Fiore, 25, and Elijah Pino, 3.

Two other people inside the home at the time of the fire were hurt. Police said a 5-year-old was air lifted to a Colorado Springs hospital. The child's grandmother was critically hurt according to police. 

A Pueblo firefighter was injured fighting the fire and was taken to the hospital, according to Pueblo police. The firefighter suffered a minor leg injury.

Police said people in two of the apartments made it out safely. The home is divided into three apartments

The Pueblo Fire Department confirmed there was only one way out in the apartment that caught fire. 

"It's an upstairs unit and only has one exit out of the rear of the structure so in order to get out other than getting out through a window, they had to exit through the door," said Capt. Richard Potter.

Potter said people should pinpoint two exits wherever they are. "If you've only got one way out, maybe look at other windows, maybe look at putting some ladder escapes for upstairs units in a window and now you've created a secondary means of egress," he said. 

Ben Valdez didn't know his neighbors personally, but he said the news is painful.

"It's Christmas morning. For someone to pass away like that in a fire, especially a kid and their mother, it's really sad," said Valdez.

He saw fire trucks outside his home early Wednesday morning.

"God bless the people and the family that had to wake up to that. They're gone on Christmas Day. It's just not a good day to remember something like that," said Valdez.

The spokesman for the fire department, Gary Micheli, said the news is also hard on the firefighters who rushed to the home early Wednesday.

"It's hard on the guys.  You see the emotion in them," said Micheli. "It's hard to see at any time, especially on Christmas. That's supposed to be a day of joy and fun and happiness.  So we have lost two people; there are some people who are really hurting.  It's sad."

Police said they have ruled out arson as the cause of the fire and said the fire is believed to possibly be drug related. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations is also assisting with the investigation.

A bank account has been set up to help the family with funeral costs. Go to U.S. Bank and ask to donate to the Natasha Fiore and Elijah Pino account if you wish to contribute.

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