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A two-alarm fire forced evacuation of 40 occupants at a downtown Salt Lake City apartment complex and injured three residents early Monday morning.

The blaze, first reported in a 911 call to public safety dispatchers at 4:28 a.m. from 825 E. 600 South, initially affected 30 units.

Fire Capt. Mark Bednarik said two residents received burns ranging from minor to serious due to "radiant heat" from the flames as they exited their apartments, and a third, in a wheelchair, suffered smoke inhalation. All three went to the hospital, two by ambulance and one by a private car.

Utah Red Cross workers were helping those displaced with food, clothing and housing aid, while Utah Transit Authority provided a bus to give the occupants temporary shelter on a chilly morning.

Bednarik said that the blaze initially was reported as a single car fire, so one engine company was dispatched at first. However, as that unit arrived the crew spotted several vehicles ablaze and the flames rapidly spreading, so a second alarm was called.

In all, 40 firefighters responded, and in some cases had to use ladders to rescue several residents from balconies on the second story of the complex.

Damages were expected to top $300,000. In addition to the many of units, 17 vehicles were destroyed or heavily damaged; carports, weakened by the heat, collapsed.

In all, 14 of the units were deemed uninhabitable; another 10 units sustained minor some, "radiant heat" and water damage but were temporarily off-limits since utility services were lost as flames also burned power poles leading into the complex.

The fire appeared to have started in a carport storage area, and spread to the adjacent apartment building.

Fire has been determined to be accidental, but the cause remained undetermined.

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