AURORA — One person has died and two others were injured after an explosion and fire at Heather Gardens in Aurora on Friday evening, according to Aurora Fire Rescue.
The explosion was reported just after 5:30 p.m. along East Linvale Place within the Heather Gardens community.
Heather Gardens issued a statement Saturday evening identifying Carol Ross as the woman killed in the explosion.
"This is a tragic loss and as friends and neighbors, members of the HGA and HGMD Boards want to express our deepest sympathy to her family and friends," the statement read.
Lt. Laure Bridges with Aurora Fire Rescue initially said one person and one firefighter were injured in the gas-fed fire, and that both sustained non life-threatening injuries.
After initial searches were complete, rescue crews determined that one resident was still unaccounted for. That's when Aurora Fire Rescue brought in a canine search unit to assist. A deceased victim was discovered early Saturday in one of the patio home units, Aurora Fire Rescue said.
“Our hearts go out to the many residents who are impacted by this tragedy and our department offers our deepest condolences to the family of the victim on this very sad day,” Aurora Fire Chief Fernando Gray Sr. said in a news release. “We will continue to investigate the cause of this incident.”
According to the statement released by Heather Gardens, the most severe damage was limited to six unts, or three duplex buildings
During a news conference Friday evening, Bridges said the fire was fed by gas that was spilling out of a gas line within the area of the blaze. She could not confirm that is how the fire started.
Bridges said AFD was initially dispatched to Heather Gardens on a report of a gas leak. In a statement, Xcel energy also said they were also on scene to investigate a suspected gas leak just before the explosion.
"What I do know is there was some sort of construction, they smelled gas and called 911 for us to respond," Bridges said. "When we arrived, there was almost an immediate explosion and fire."
All the homes in the area with gas-fed lines were evacuated, Bridges said.
Heather Gardens residents were warned of a "major gas leak" on the property two days before Friday's explosion and fire. A Wednesday email to residents warned them not to “light any matches, lighters, candles, or use anything that could cause a spark.”
Mark Stutz, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy said in a statement that the two leaks were not related but were "both were caused by a non-Xcel Energy contractor working for a third party. The statement went on to read: "The Wednesday leak occurred in a different section of the same neighborhood and was repaired the same day."
The Heather Gardens release also said that the two leaks were not related.
Leslie Oliver with Comcast confirmed to 9NEWS that the company has been working at Heather Gardens to install new fiber optic network for the past several months. She could not comment on the cause of the fire or gas leaks.
Gas remains shut off to affected buildings, but Xcel is working to restore service as soon as possible, according to the release.
Heather Gardens stated that the Public Utilities Commission asked Comcast to suspend the installation of fiber-optic cables until further notice and they have agreed.
Video shared by a 9NEWS viewer from the scene shows what appeared to be large flames. Nancy Lisenbigler lives nearby and said what happened shook her entire house.
"All the sudden my big patio door and window just, it felt like a sonic boom or some kind of an explosion," she said. "It rattled the entire door. Never had that happen."
Evacuees were taken to the community's clubhouse at 2888 S Heather Gardens Way, an area within the community by far enough away from the fire to be safe, Aurora police said.
Bridges said that the Red Cross was called to set up at the clubhouse. Any displaced resident can call the clubhouse at 303-751-1811, and they will inform residents if they can return to their home.
The release from Heather Gardens stated that the Red Cross will continue to be a resource for those in need. Their weekend number is (800) 417-0495 and their weekday number is (303) 722-7479.
It is recommended to stay away from the area until investigations are complete. If you smell gas, call 911. Do not assume it has already been reported.
Heather Gardens is an age-restricted community less than a mile from I-225 and Cherry Creek State Park.