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Blaze consumes old furniture building in Salt Lake City

Published May 14, 2011 4:01 pm

Unknown cause • No injuries reported; the city-owned structure was to have been restored.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Smoke rolled through Salt Lake City's Old Greektown on Saturday morning as fire destroyed a building the city was planning to restore.

No injuries were reported and the fire's cause was unknown. The blaze destroyed the old Intermountain Furniture Manufacturing Co. builfing on 600 West across from the Utah Transit Authority's Intermodal Hub.

Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott said the city-owned furniture building was the only one on the block that was to be saved in a redevelopment project.

"It was a pet project of mine, as it was an impressive structure: wood floors, beautiful beams, historic brick exterior, and would have helped the area keep some its historical warehouse district character," Garrott said in an email. "A real shame."

As the sun came up, the western half of Salt Lake City had a black haze above it. At least four ladder trucks sprayed water onto the blaze at one point. Water streamed out of the building's front door.

It took about 2½ hours to control the flames, but firefighters remained late into the afternoon dousing hot spots as a small amount of smoke continued to rise.

People at the transit hub reported the fire about 5:30 a.m. About 90 minutes later, firefighters evacuated about 30 tenants at the ArtSpace gallery and an apartment building east of the blaze.

Marin Christensen, who lives in an end unit next to the abandoned building, was one of the tenants evacuated. Around 6 a.m. she woke to the smell of smoke and a surprise out her back door.

"We looked out our back porch and saw [the smoke]. It was insane," she said. "Smoke covered the whole sky. It was billowing."

The charred building, now featuring a collapsed roof, is owned by the city, said Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Scott Freitag. Officially, the building was unoccupied, though Freitag said squatters have been known to stay there.

"Since all the utilities were turned off, it's got to be human caused." Freitag said.

The blaze may have started in the basement, Freitag said. Investigators were trying to find witnesses.

Christensen hoped the city would have acted earlier to renovate the building.

"I thought it was an awesome building. It would have been dumb to tear it down, but it is too late now."


Twitter: @natecarlisle








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