On Tuesday, August 14, Jena Affinito had just woken up and let her dogs out into the side yard of her home. As she stepped out the door to follow them, an explosion ripped through the roof of the building across the street, the force of which smacked her back into her house. Affinito fell and hit her head, barely avoiding a tumble down the basement stairs just behind her. She also avoided joining the list of the nine injured from the gas explosion that ripped through the building on Sante Fe Drive and Fourth Avenue, sending debris and glass flying in all directions.
Two individuals were transported to the hospital, including one in critical condition, according to the Denver Fire Department.
In the hours after the explosion, Affinito sat on a bench outside a nearby house. Her dog Richy was still playful as can be. Her other dog, Ricky, sat quietly next to her.
Meanwhile, police and fire department officials cordoned off the explosion site, preventing some residents from returning to their homes or businesses. A resident who lived in a house near where the explosion took place crossed under the police tape, ignoring shouts to get back. She eventually complied and sat on the curb until an all-clear signal was given. Once it was obvious that the situation was under control, residents and workers trickled back into the area.
The explosion broke some of the stained-glass windows in Affinito's home. Other larger windows were shattered, glass strewn across the floor. The back yard looked less like a place for a barbecue and more like a war zone; the fence had broken in multiple places, and a shed door had been blown off.
Randy Layman was in town from Michigan to visit his newly born granddaughter when the home he was staying in, a couple of blocks from the site, started to rumble. "There was a big explosion," he says. "I thought the air conditioner fell out of the window upstairs. It shook the house for five seconds...kind of like an earthquake. It was scary."
Layman says that he saw a man walking away from the scene of the explosion with nothing on but his underwear. He believes that the rest of his clothing were burned off in the explosion.
Affinito just feels lucky to be alive: "If I just went one more step, I would have died."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.