Palisade police say suspect in deadly Friday apartment fire has been found dead near Leadville

Palisade fire 3
Courtesy Larry Robinson/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Fire crews spray water onto an apartment fire in Palisade on Friday, April 5, 2024. One person died in the blaze, which officials say may have been intentionally set. A suspect in the fire was later found dead.

Authorities say the apartment fire that killed one person in the small Western Slope town of Palisade late last week may have been intentionally set — and a suspect has been found dead more than 100 miles away.

On Friday, April 5, Palisade police and fire departments received a report of an explosion at a small apartment complex around 7:15 a.m. By the time crews arrived, the six-unit building was completely engulfed. At that point, authorities said they heard reports of someone trapped inside but could not confirm it.

By the same afternoon, however, police and fire departments reported that one person had indeed died in the blaze. Police have not released their identity.

Officials have also not released the identity of the suspect. On Friday afternoon, authorities tracked the suspect’s phone to Lake County, near the small mountain town of Leadville. When local law enforcement officers were dispatched, they found the suspect’s body. It is unclear how they died.

Authorities have released scant details so far, but say there is no evidence to suggest an explosive device, drug lab or utility issue caused the explosion and fire. While preliminary evidence does suggest the fire was intentional, officials say, the investigation is expected to take weeks. 

All other apartment tenants at the building are accounted for, and the Red Cross has been providing services to the displaced residents. The building has been deemed a total loss.