"There's still smoke coming from it today, embers still burning under the [debris] pile," Asay said early Monday. "So we have to wait for the fire to quit smoking completely, and then for the city building and housing department to determine if it is secure enough for our investigators to go inside."
With the upper floors razed, investigators will start looking for clues Tuesday as to the cause of the fire, Asay said. He added that the investigation will be a careful process, and investigators may not determine what caused the blaze until week's end.
On Sunday night, the fire filled the city's skies with thick, billowing smoke reportedly visible from as far away as Davis County to the north. Before crews could control the flames, the scene's nighttime skies also sparked with glowing, swirling embers.
At its height, the blaze forced evacuation of the nearby Smith's Marketplace. However, firefighters were able to contain the fire to the complex, which was under construction at the time the fire broke out. Crews also worked hard to keep flames from toppling a construction crane at the site.
No one was reported injured in the blaze. Crews stayed through the night to mop up hot spots and were still dousing flare-ups at dawn.
On Monday, U.S. Development, the construction company erecting the apartments, moved in two additional cranes to stabilize and disassemble another crane left warped and unstable by heat from the fire, Asay said.
No firm damage estimates were immediately available, but the losses were expected to top $1.5 million, Asay said, adding that the price tag may go considerably higher if the foundation and an underground parking structure at the site also are found compromised.
The exposed wood framing of the unfinished units allowed flames to race throughout the 40-foot-high complex, an event watched by a crowd of hundreds from the store and neighboring residences.
One, a 27-year-old Salt Lake City man, apparently was not content to watch. He was discovered on the scene allegedly impersonating a firefighter and arrested. Asay said the bogus firefighter, who has showed up twice before at SLCFD calls within the past six months, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of a class B misdemeanor of impersonating a firefighter.
Asay said the man was not a suspect in the fire, but investigators will be questioning him to determine more about his motives.