LOCAL NEWS

Authorities Investigating Fire At South Salt Lake Apartment Building As Suspicious

Apr 16, 2020, 5:17 AM | Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 7:44 pm

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – An apartment fire in South Salt Lake that left an estimated 40 people displaced and sent two infants to the hospital was being investigated as suspicious, according to police.

The fire broke shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday at an apartment complex located at 336 East 3360 South.

“I heard like a really loud bang. It almost sounded like a gunshot,” said Sally Taylor, who helped wake up neighbors to escape the fire. “It was like fairly small, but by the time I was able to dial 911 and start yelling ‘Fire,’ it tripled in size in like a minute. And then all these cars exploded really quickly.”

In total, the flames ripped through 18 vehicles and 24 apartments.

“It was just engulfed in flames all the way up to the top of the roof,” said Josh Jensen, who woke up to the popping sounds of gas tanks rupturing in the heat. “All the cars were on fire. It was really devastating.”

Two infants were taken to Primary Children’s Hospital for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.

Chief Terry Addison with South Salt Lake Fire Department said investigators believe it originated from a vehicle, and it appears to be suspicious.

“At one point this went to a three-alarm fire, so we had close to 100 firefighters or a little bit more on scene,” he said.

An estimated 40 people are receiving aid from the American Red Cross.

“This couldn’t have happened at a crazier time where we literally can’t leave our homes,” Taylor said. “And now they don’t have anything. Families are running out without shoes and pants on because they couldn’t grab anything, and everything they own is gone right now.”

The Red Cross assisted displaced families and said unlike disasters in the past, with the current pandemic, they are not putting the residents in congregate shelters.

“Due to the current situation, we are putting people in hotels, paying for that because (of) those social distancing, and obviously we want to keep people safe,” said Richard Woodruff, Utah’s Red Cross communications director.

Resident Amanda Ward said she had no choice but to jump from her second story apartment in order to survive.

“I opened up my door, and the girl from the third floor was jumping and screaming,” Ward said. “I immediately jumped down, kind of Spider-Maned it down to help the girl that jumped down.”

The only injury, Ward said, was a burn on her right arm. She told KSL she lost everything in the fire.

“I guess I’m just thankful to be alive,” she said.

 

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Authorities Investigating Fire At South Salt Lake Apartment Building As Suspicious