OLD COLORADO CITY, Colo. (KRDO) -- As many businesses are just regaining steam following pandemic restrictions, a handful of store owners are forced to close their doors once again after a suspected arsonist set two separate fires early Thursday morning on Colorado Avenue.
The owners of The House of Flags were the first victims of the night. Just after midnight, police believe an arsonist broke into the side of their business, near Colorado Ave and 29th Street. They set several small fires inside, causing damage to their building and destroying tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory. They also stole all the bills from the business's cash box -- though they left rolls of coins, computers, and televisions behind.
Jennifer Schreiner, a manager of The House of Flags, walked KRDO through her damaged business. She said she doesn't know why someone would try to destroy her store.
She wasn't alone -- the arsonist hit another storefront two blocks west of The House of Flags.
The arsonist set fire to the UPS Store on Colorado Avenue around 30 minutes later. Since that location is inside a strip mall, several other businesses are severely damaged as well. Red Rock Nails, Pap Murphy's Nara Sushi & Grill and Trails End Taproom all had to close Thursday to clean up.
The owner of Trails End woke up in the middle of the night to motion detectors going off outside his Old Colorado City location. He looked at his cameras and saw smoke billowing out of his taproom. He got to his business as fast as he could -- and was relieved to only find minimal smoke damage. After doing some cleaning Thursday, he believes their business will be ready to open on Friday.
The minimal damage is thanks to a firewall he reluctantly installed when he remodeled his location three and a half years ago.
"I tried to fight it, because it's a very expensive wall to build," Trails End Taproom owner Kevin Weese said.
His attitude toward that design feature changed early Thursday morning.
"In the long run, it seems like a blessing to have it," Weese said.
As these damaged businesses continue to clean up, police are still actively searching for the suspect. If you know anything about who started these fires, contact Colorado Springs Police.