LOCAL NEWS

Over 1K evacuated as crews fight 4-alarm fire at under-construction SLC building

Oct 26, 2022, 1:41 AM | Updated: Nov 22, 2022, 11:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — At least 80 firefighters from various departments responded to a four-alarm fire in the Sugar House area at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Crews worked through the night putting out hot spots at the six-story apartment complex in the area of 1040 East and 2220 South. By noon Wednesday crews extinguished almost all of the fire except for some flames burning within the six-story complex’s outer skin, Salt Lake City Fire Chief Karl Lieb said.

Lieb said crews are currently working on a plan to demolish at least the outside skin to minimize the danger of a collapse.

The complex was in various stages of completion.

Despite the huge flames, Lieb said just one civilian suffered minor injuries.

Members of the public were urged to avoid the area.

EVACUATION CENTER

The American Red Cross arrived at the scene to help the 1,000 people who were evacuated from the burning building and other buildings nearby.

Some of the evacuated residents told KSL TV’s Matt Rascon that the under-construction building is part of The Residence at Sugar Alley project.

The evacuation site moved from the Forest Dale Golf Course to a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 2005 S. 900 East.

It was a warm spot for those displaced from the fire to get some food, water, and warmth while they waited for word on when they can return home.

One evacuee named Katie said she woke up just before midnight and realized the apartment complex under construction across the street was on fire.

“I woke up and heard the siren. Then I looked outside my window and saw flames. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

She grabbed her dog Charlie and got out quickly.

“There was a police officer knocking on the door telling everyone to get out.”

She said a city bus dropped her off at the Forest Dale Golf Course where the American Red Cross set up an evacuation site. About 78 people hunkered down there.

“It was a little chaotic at first as you can expect,” said Mackenzie Jones with the American Red Cross Greater Salt Lake Chapter.

While waiting for answers, they grabbed food and water.

“Unfortunately, it’s kind of a waiting game and that’s really hard,” said Jones.

Drew Noble says he was a little out of it when he heard fire alarms outside his window.

“I’m trying to get over a cold and I have some NyQuil and I woke up and I woke up to the fire alarm completely delirious,” Noble said. “Honestly, I thought that the sun was rising. People are knocking on my door. I don’t really know what’s going on.”

He was grateful he could find a warm place to hang out. “I kind of ran out and didn’t grab a jacket. The EMTs gave me a blanket and now I’m here,” Noble said.

Just before 9 Wednesday morning, the Red Cross bussed evacuees to a nearby LDS Stake Center.

“We’ve moved location but we’re staying the course of just providing food, snacks, water, things like that.”

Giving people as much time as they need to figure out their next steps.

The numbers have gone down significantly at the evacuation site. We’re seeing just a handful of people right now. Some folks have been allowed to go back to their homes with a police escort to grab some of their belongings. It doesn’t appear they’ll be back in their homes at least for tonight.

One of those evacuees included Shawn Zhang, a resident of Sugarmont Apartments.

He said he had to get out so fast that he had just enough time to slip on his socks and sandals and grab some essentials. “Like my passport, my ID, my keys,” said Zhang.

He was one of the dozens of residents who evacuated from the Sugarmont Apartments.

“I got some pictures here. This is one I took I think around 12. Yeah, it was pretty heavy fire. Lot of sirens,” Zhang said. 

He saw lots of owners fleeing with their pets. “Lot of pets going down the stairs. People I see are generally kind of worried,” Zhang said. 

REBUILDING

It’s going to take time for residents to shake off the scare and rebuild.

Carl Gilbert has been working in construction since the 70s. On a job just down from where the fire broke out, he said there will be lots of damage to clean up. 

“Water damage. Smoke damage,” Gilbert said.

From what he can tell, most of the burned-out complex is going to need a complete rebuild. 

“Probably 50% to 75% of that’s gonna have to be knocked down and started over. Like on the part that they’re spraying right now, probably gonna be gutted out basically, Gilbert explained. “Check the structure and then have to rebuild part of that. The part that’s collapsed – just tear it down to the foundation and start over.”

As for how much time he said it could take to do that, he said it’ll probably take three to four months to tear it down and begin to rebuild.

He also mentioned that while he’s been working on a job that’s not far from the fire, he watched as the apartment was in various stages of construction.

He said part of the building was nearly good to go from a construction standpoint. They were likely about 80% done before the fire.

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Over 1K evacuated as crews fight 4-alarm fire at under-construction SLC building