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Fire in LDS Conference Center leaves thousands of gallons of water in main auditorium

Published: Monday, April 16 2012 10:46 p.m. MDT

Smoke in the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set off sprinklers, resulting in thosands of gallons of water in the center's main auditorium.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A small fire in a mechanical room in the LDS Conference Center led to water damage and flooding in the main auditorium Monday night.

At 8:15 p.m., a fire triggered the sprinkler system in the mechanical room, which sits almost directly above the pulpit. Two sprinklers in the room put out the fire before firefighters arrived.

"Along with extinguishing the fire, (the sprinklers) also left a lot of water in the mechanical room area," said Salt Lake fire spokesman Jasen Asay.

He said there was "more than a couple feet" of water in the room, and water seeped down into the main auditorium, leaking "thousands of gallons of water into the first 10 rows of the Conference Center."

"It's too early to speculate what caused the fire," Asay said. "Coming from the mechanical room, it does kind of say that maybe it was accidental, but of course, it's under investigation."

Salt Lake firefighters said they would stay as long as they were needed to help clean up, and said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would assess the damage. Many church employees were also helping to clear water from the area late Monday.

There were no injuries. It was unclear Monday night exactly what kind of damage was done.

The Conference Center is home of the twice-yearly general conferences of the LDS Church. Other church and community events are held there throughout the year, including concerts of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Construction of the 21,000-seat venue was completed in 2000.

E-mail: hschwarz@desnews.com

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