The Crystal Springs Estate retirement home had operated without a state license since 1988, and denial of a license was due in part to a dispute over fire-safety equipment at the facility, state records show.

The Colorado Department of Health knew for more than two years about fire-safety violations at the retirement home where nine people died in a fire Monday, but officials allowed the facility to keep operating, according to inspection reports.Investigators have blamed a hot furnace flue in the attic for the blaze.

Because of the fire-safety problems, the health department refused to license Crystal Springs Estate but made no effort to shut down the personal-care boarding home.

The most recent state inspection, in September 1990, found "smoke detectors . . . not wired into the electrical system." The health department also ordered that detectors be installed in hallways and common areas "with warning to all bedrooms."