Mar 182012
Authors: Erin Udell

Senior business management major Phil Carpenter didn’t expect “getting evacuated from my apartment” to be on his list of spring break activities. But, while watching the 4 a.m. fire consume a University Courts apartment building adjacent to his from the parking lot Saturday, things became more real than he ever imagined.

“It’s definitely something you never expect to have to do,” Carpenter said of evacuating from the apartment he’s lived in for the past three and a half years. “I expected a lot more people to freak out, but everyone was relatively calm.”

“It was definitely an exciting experience,” he added. “Not that I want to do it again anytime soon.”

According to a Poudre Fire Authority news release, firefighters responded to the early-morning call and found a large-volume blaze coming from a center upstairs apartment in the three-story, wood-frame dwelling located at 1301 University Ave.

After completing an investigation into the fire, PFA said Monday that the cause of the fire was the unintentional, improper disposal of smoking material. The fire originated on a balcony on the east side of the building.

While the fire impinged on Carpenter’s building and caused both buildings to be evacuated, only one unit was destroyed, with four surrounding apartments sustaining smoke, fire and water damage. Carpenter’s building sustained exterior damage.

Father Rocco Porter, a pastor at the nearby Blessed John XXIII Catholic University Center who lives near the site of the fire, said he woke up to the flashing fire truck lights and emergency responders Saturday morning.

After watching the scene from his window, Porter opened the University Center to provide the almost 30 evacuees with food, water and shelter.

While residents of the apartments that weren’t severely damaged got to go home around 7:30 a.m., Porter said others were still there at the church until noon.

“I felt bad, but I’m glad we were able to do what we could, no matter how small it was,” he said.

“It has to be hard (for the residents to lose their belongings),” Porter added. “Especially as college students, who don’t really have a lot to start with.”

Follow the Collegian and as this story develops.

News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at

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