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Arvada businesses rally with community help after tragic fire

Several firms operated in building where addictions counselor died


Despite tragic events of a Jan. 2 commercial fire, members of the seven businesses at 6475 Wadsworth Blvd. are rallying in aid and support.

“We're devastated by the loss of John, the man upstairs,” Robert Wolf, owner of Wolf Law, said after hearing of the death of John Rutter, an addictions counselor with Creative Treatment Options, a substance abuse treatment center which was located on the third floor. “We're all kind of a community in there so we help each other out.”

The Arvada Fire Protection District is still investigating the cause of the commercial fire, which left two injured and Rutter dead. It began shortly before 10 a.m. Jan. 2 in the Scenic Heights Professional Building, Arvada's deputy fire marshal Deanna Harrington said.

Wolf Law, Creative Treatment Options, KTS Tech II, a tanning salon, Lange Land Surveys and a medical practice were located in the building.

Wolf, who was not on scene that day and who is now operating at GoFigure Accounting at 7607 Ralston Road and out of his home, said the fire was devastating for these small businesses. They lost not only their offices, but original documents, tools, technology, records and personal items. Friends with one of the doctors on his floor and with the owner of Creative Treatment Options, Joyce Smith, Wolf notified his friend and neighbor about the fire, then immediately reached out to Smith to see how she was doing.

“We were not a tight-knit group — but we certainly look out for each other,” Smith said. She has since offered up space in Creative Treatment Options' temporary location at 1410 Vance St. in Lakewood to Wolf for his practice, should he need it.

For Lange Land Surveys, the support from within was matched with an outpouring of support from the outside community. There were offers of office space in homes and the donation of a printer.

“Our main goal was to get back on the horses — our company's not dead, there's still clients out there,” said Ethan Clewell, an autoCAD draftsman with the company.

They and the other businesses were allowed back into the building on Jan. 8 to retrieve any salvageable property. “You have to tread forward with the thought process of what do we need to do to move forward and rebuild," Clewell said.

Even as firefighting crews from Arvada, Westminster and Adams County departments battled the fire well into the afternoon on Jan. 2, nearby businesses, community organizations and Scenic Heights business owners started to come together. Sportline, a neighboring sports retail store, offered the use of its parking lot and conference rooms for Arvada police and fire personnel, media press conferences and tenant meetings with the building's business owners.

Starbucks and the Salvation Army popped by to deliver fresh coffee and food to fire crews investigating the scene last week and those who battled the blaze that Saturday.

“It's a culture that's been built up in the community of Arvada, and that takes years of knowing your neighbors, knowing the community,” said Ryan Stachelski, director of the Arvada Economic Development Association, an organization serving the businesses of Arvada.

Immediately following the fire, the association reached out to all the businesses inside the building to offer support, communication with other agencies and information on how to get their businesses back up and running.

“We're just a small part of this organism that is supporting these businesses," Stachelski said of the community. "And that's something I'm most proud of — how the community and these businesses stepped up.”


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