Nov 27, 2013 11:38 PM by Kirsten Boyd

Investigators trying to determine cause of deaths, fire in Rye

Three people were found dead inside a burning home on the 8200 block of Highway 165 in Rye Wednesday morning, authorities haven't determined how the people died but are calling the fire "suspicious."

According to Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor, an off-duty Pueblo police officer driving by the house noticed smoke billowing out of it and called 911 at around 10 a.m. The officer and another passerby knocked on the doors and windows trying to warn anyone inside but didn't get any answer. The fire prompted a massive response from first responders all over the area drawing the attention of residents across the small community.

"Looked out the back window and we could see smoke so we just drove up here to see what was burning," described Greg Strong while watching the home burn. "You know when you live close to a forest you're always concerned about fire."

When the first firefighters on scene made their way into the home they found three bodies.

"They discovered what they believe to be two bodies in one bedroom and one body in another bedroom," Sheriff Taylor explained.

The firefighters were forced to evacuate because of heavy smoke and fire, as well as exploding ammunition. Fire crews from multiple agencies were forced to surround the house, which burned for hours because it was too dangerous to go inside and water had to be brought in by tankers from Rye.

Detective from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office weren't able to begin their investigation at the scene because of the long fire. However, investigators were able to confirm that three children who lived in the home were safe with their father in Pueblo.

Because of the fire, Sheriff Taylor said the investigation will be very complicated.

"The roof has collapsed and also the floor so as you can imagine we're going to have a hard time getting in there and sifting through all of that to find and ultimately identify these folks," he explained.

Those living nearby were left to spend Wednesday night wondering who the three people were and how they died.

"Being a small community a lot of times you wonder if it's somebody that you know personally or somebody you go to church with or something like that," George Strong described. "So it does cause concern."

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding a person of interest in the case. Harry Mapps, 59, had been renting a room at the home until a week ago. He is described as about 6-feet tall, 135-pounds with red hair and blue eyes. He may be driving and living in a blue 2004 Chrysler Town and Country minivan with Texas license plates reading 7 FSNK. Anybody with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 719-583-6250.



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