A resident of the Cheyenne Vista Apartments said the fire alarms and at least one smoke detector didn't work during a fire that remains under investigation.
Anthony Tafoya said he was the first resident to see the fire and help the neighbor from the unit where it began. He was shocked at what happened when he pulled several fire alarms.
"They just wouldn't sound," he said. "The smoke detector in the neighbor's apartment didn't (sound) until five minutes after the fire was out."
Tafoya said other fire alarms have been painted over and are impossible to pull, and have disconnected wires.
"I'm concerned because I'm a dad and there are lots of kids around here who wouldn't know what to do. There was some crying (Tuesday). You don't want a kid to get burned.
Tafoya said fire safety in the wooden complex has been a concern since Feb. 2012, when a cigarette sparked a fire that caused $200,000 in damage.
"This has been brought up to management," he said. "They say they'll look into it, but they never did."
Apartment managers declined comment on the matter Wednesday.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department soon expects to finish its investigation of what caused the fire and whether safety problems exist.
"If you can't warn the tenants that there's a fire, what's to say it doesn't wipe everyone out next time? I've lived here five years but I may move out."
Authorities said 20 people initially evacuated from the fire. The Red Cross is helping displaced tenants.