DENVER (AP) — Those who knew 63-year-old bar owner Young Fero described her as feisty and hard-working, often closing the bar herself each night.
Just before Fero's Bar & Grill was set to close early Wednesday, an officer on a routine patrol spotted it on fire. Inside, firefighters found the bodies of one man and four women, including Fero, with the fire apparently set to cover up the slayings, authorities said.
Police have no suspects, and it's possible whoever is responsible is still at large. Denver Police Chief Robert White said there's nothing to indicate the deaths were a murder-suicide.
"It's very alarming, and that's why it's so important that we investigate it to the fullest," White said.
The Denver medical examiner identified the other victims as Daria M. Pohl, 22; Kellene Fallon, 45; Ross Richter, 29; and Tereasa Beesley, 45. Pohl, Fallon and Beesley were from Denver. Richter's hometown wasn't released.
The medical examiner didn't release the cause of death.
The five dead were believed to be the only people in the bar when the fire started, other than the suspect or suspects. Police asked anyone who was there earlier to come forward.
The bar is in a strip mall about five miles south of downtown Denver, just beyond the upscale Cherry Creek North shopping district. It is wedged among a check-cashing store, a tennis shop, a nail salon and a car repair business on busy Colorado Boulevard.
Police said the fire did extensive damage, but little of that was visible from the outside.
The bar attracted both regulars and people staying in nearby hotels, but neighbors said it didn't seem busy most days.
Frequent patron Chris Brady said the bar's customers ranged from "semi-homeless-looking people" to patrons in suits and ties.
He was at the bar for a regular poker game held Tuesdays and left at about 11 p.m.
"There was nobody random or crazy in there," Brady said.
Brady said Fero was known for cooking up beef dishes for customers at a moment's notice and usually would close the bar herself.
She bid him goodnight Tuesday as he paid his tab.
"She said, "Thank you, sweetie. Have a good night,'" Brady said. "I said, 'You too.'"