Historic Mall Fire Called Accidental

Federal investigators say a fire that gutted a historic building in Estes Park was an accident, ignited by a natural gas water heater.

Agents with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire and Explosives said Saturday that Estes Park and state authorities were part of the investigation into the Oct. 19 fire in the town 70 miles northwest of Denver.

The fire destroyed about 24,000 square feet of the Park Theater Mall. The building dates to 1914 and originally was a carriage house and livery. It later became a shopping center and housed 12 stores before the fire.

Estes Park officials say cleanup of the building will start this weekend to get as much done as possible before the town’s Halloween celebration.