One person dies in early morning central Greeley fire
August 16, 2017
Tony Archer's Wednesday began like usual at about 4:45 a.m. His wife was preparing to go for a run at his family's home in the 1800 block of 11th Street. That's when he heard a group of people on the street outside.
He said he believed they lived a few houses down, at 1804 11th St. He knew the house as a bit of a revolving door, he said, and sometimes more than 10 people lived there at a time. Gradually, as Greeley Fire Department vehicles began to fill the street, he learned the house had caught fire.
About 5 minutes earlier, Greeley police and firefighters responded to a report of smoke and a possible structure fire at the house. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and found one person dead inside the home. Weld County Coroner Carl Blesch said he could not release the identity of the victim. He said an autopsy hadn't yet taken place, and he said that for scheduling reasons it would likely be a couple of days to accomplish.
Greeley Fire Department Fire Marshall Pete Morgan said in an email 17 firefighters and two fire investigators responded to the scene, along with six fire trucks. He said he did not immediately know how long it took firefighters to extinguish the blaze.
“(The fire) is just a bummer for the owner because I think he genuinely wants to help people.
— Tony Archer, neighbor
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He said there were no other injuries. No one else in the home was in the area that burned.
He declined to release any other information about the fire, such as where it was contained within the home.
Neighbor Archer said the fire appeared to be centered on a garage behind the home. He couldn't smell the fire until he opened the back windows of his house.
"It smelled just like a campfire," he said.
Fire crews left as the morning wore on, but by about 8:30 a.m. police were still on the scene. They cordoned off the home, which did not show many external signs of fire damage, and by about 9 a.m., a few people sat on the curb in front of the house, while officers stood nearby. Multiple police vehicles were parked on the street as well, and authorities worked to set up roadblocks on 18th Avenue. The crime scene tape and the police presence stood out in the otherwise quiet neighborhood, where the sidewalks are lined with shade trees and residents were walking dogs by midmorning.
It wasn't the first time police responded to the property. In January 2016, the Greeley police SWAT team and the Weld County Drug Task Force arrested five people at the address, which was described as a "flop house" in a Greeley Police Department news release. More than 10 people were living in the house at that point, according to the release, and police believed many of them were using drugs.
"We moved into this neighborhood to form a sense of community," Archer said. "(The fire) is just a bummer for the owner because I think he genuinely wants to help people."