By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Firefighters who rushed to douse an early morning fire at a Denver bar on Wednesday found the bodies of four women and a man in the charred building in what investigators described as a gruesome scene of possibly violent deaths.
The fire at Fero's Bar and Grill was first spotted by a police officer who called authorities to report the blaze between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., Denver police spokesman Detective John White said.
"There appeared to be trauma to the bodies" that led investigators to "believe these were not natural deaths," White said. He declined to say how they died, including whether they had been shot.
"It was a pretty gruesome scene," inside the bar, Denver Fire Department spokesman Lieutenant Phil Champagne said.
He said the five bodies had wounds that were "not consistent" with the possibility they had died of smoke inhalation or burns.
The bar was badly damaged in the blaze but not totally destroyed, he said. "Often in these cases, someone will set a building on fire to cover up another crime."
A former owner, Danny Fero, said he was concerned about the fate of his ex-wife, Young Suk Fero, who now owns the bar, because in television news footage he saw her car parked outside the bar. He said they bought the bar in 1984 and that they divorced in 1998.
"She closes the bar every night," Fero said.
The bar is located in southeast Denver on the major thoroughfare of Colorado Boulevard.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Vicki Allen, Cynthia Johnston and Jackie Frank)