AURORA, Colo. – A woman was arrested Monday on murder and arson charges after a fire swept through a three-story apartment building in suburban Denver, killing a 5-year-old boy and displacing more than 30 people.
Investigators believe Alondra Michel, 37, was involved in a domestic violence incident with a resident on the main level of the apartment building early Monday morning and intentionally set something on fire, according to Aurora police. The blaze quickly spread to other apartments, including the second-story unit where the boy was found.
Michel was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. A phone message left with the police department Monday evening to determine if she has an attorney who can speak on her behalf was not immediately returned.
Fire officials said people trying to escape couldn’t get down the stairs of the building during the fire, and photos showed the outdoor staircases burned in the blaze. Firefighters using ladders rescued about nine people from the building, said Lt. Dan Pollet, a spokesman for Aurora Fire Rescue.
The boy, whose name has not been released, died in a hospital, Aurora Fire Rescue said in a statement.
“Despite the courageous and professional efforts of our members, our community has suffered a tragic loss and the entire Aurora Fire Rescue family is deeply saddened by this incident," Chief Fernando Gray, Sr. said.
The fire agency is investigating the blaze, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m. Police are investigating the boy's death, said police spokesperson Agent Matthew Longshore.
According to the Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming, the fire directly damaged 12 apartments and left 12 others without utility service. It said it was providing lodging assistance and other services to 18 adults and eight children because of the fire.