This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah Film Center staffers spent much of Tuesday wading through water-logged soot as they took inventory of "extensive" damage and losses to their building after a large blaze filled the early-morning skies of downtown Salt Lake City with smoke and flame.
"We will be out of there for the rest of this week, for sure," said Elisabeth Nebeker, executive director the Utah Film Center (UFC). "As a nonprofit, we're not sure what's next ... but we have a lot of support in the community."
Hardest hit, Nebeker believes, were the UFC's DVD archives in the basement. "There's [also] a layer of ash in the offices, melted computers, but everyone's OK, so we're grateful for that," she said.
Salt Lake City Fire Department units and police cruisers flooded into the area about 3:30 a.m., finding the pre-dawn streets aglow with the flames and thick smoke billowing from the basement of the building at 122 S. Main. In all, 76 firefighters including a unit from neighboring South Salt Lake attacked and quickly subdued the blaze.
The cause of the fire was accidental, from an overheated fluorescent light ballast in the basement, said SLCFD Capt. Mark Bednarik
The flames were contained to the UFC building, though smoke caused damage to at least two floors above the basement, as well as to adjacent structures, said Bednarik.
Due to fire damage to the floor supports of for the main floor of the UFC building, it was deemed unfit for occupancy, he said.
Overall damage was estimated at $100,000.
A gas line leak inside the building, which Questar crews shut off, likely contributed to the early spread of the flames in the basement, Bednarik said.
One male resident of a second-floor apartment, who had made the initial 911 call, was displaced as a result of the fire. Bednarik said he will stay with relatives until repairs are made.
Edinburgh Castle Scottish Imports, a downtown business landmark next door, sustained extensive smoke damage, but flames did not breach a shared wall. Firefighters broke down two Edinburgh Castle doors to get in, owner Eric Gilzean said.
"The main damage we have is from smoke," he said. "That smoke got into everything the kilts, the ties, the jackets and other stuff. Some of it we will just have to thrown out; you can't get that smoke out of it."
He estimated losses of goods would cost $25,000-$35,000, but he was upbeat Tuesday, saying insurance should cover it.
"Of course we're insured," Gilzean quipped. "Have you ever heard of a Scotsman in business without insurance?"
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How to help:
The Utah Film Center is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations: utahfilmcenter.org/supportus
The center strives to raise awareness among and inspire audiences while preserving the cinematic culture in Utah through free screenings; discussions with visiting artists and professionals; outreach programs, including youth media education in public schools; and two annual film festivals, according to its website: http://www.utahfilmcenter.org/