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Six units destroyed in 4-alarm Salt Lake apartment fire

Published: Sunday, Aug. 26 2012 12:59 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Six units of a Salt Lake apartment complex were gutted in a four-alarm fire early Sunday that forced some tenants to take drastic measures to save their lives.

The fire was reported just after 1:30 a.m. at 1621 W. Snow Queen Place (1675 South). Firefighters arrived to find several units of the three-story structure completely in flames, said Salt Lake fire spokesman Jasen Asay.

"The flames were all the way from the first floor up through the roof," he said.

All residents were able to evacuated safely. Eight tenants were treated for minor injuries. The worst injury was  a 37-year-old man who cut his hand breaking a window while trying to escape. The man, who had a his hand tightly wrapped by doctors, was back at the apartment complex Sunday morning trying to find out if anything in his apartment was salvageable. He declined to speak to the media.

Another resident suffered an ankle injury after jumping from a second story balcony to escape.

Samantha Mendenhall was already in the process of moving out before the fire started, but all of her clothes were still in her apartment, which was destroyed.

"It's insane. I can't believe it," she said while wiping away tears, looking up at the remains of her third story unit.

Debris from the damaged building could be seen hanging in the trees around the complex Sunday. Asay said firefighters worked under difficult conditions to prevent the fire from spreading to other apartment buildings.

"Our firefighters were tested," he said.

The biggest challenge was the small walkway area that separated the burning units and a two-story parking structure.

"It was hard to maneuver and get the hoses through," he said. "There wasn't much room to work."

About a dozen other units suffered smoke and water damage. The fire was believed to have started on the outside deck of one of the second floor apartments that was destroyed, Asay said. A cause had not been determined as of 1 p.m. Sunday.

Firefighters from West Valley and South Salt Lake assisted with the blaze.

The Red Cross was helping displaced residents find shelter. A nearby LDS church, 1250 West 1400 South, also opened its doors to provide an initial shelter area Sunday morning.

Salt Lake City Animal Control was taking care of five pets that were brought to the shelter.

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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