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Mormon Conference Center fire caused $500K in damage, fire officials say

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 4:42 p.m. MDT

Fans dry the area damamged by the fire sprinklers after a Monday fire at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, April 16, 2012.

, LDS Church

SALT LAKE CITY — A fire at the downtown Conference Center caused $500,000 in damage to the LDS Church building, fire officials said Thursday.

The blaze began about 8:15 p.m. Monday in a bank of backup batteries in a mechanical room at the Conference Center, 60 N. West Temple. The batteries serve as a backup electrical service that helps power the generator in the building.

"Investigators have concluded that the fire appears to be accidental," said Salt Lake fire spokesman Jasen Asay.

The mechanical room is located almost directly above the pulpit in the building's main auditorium. The fire triggered two sprinkler heads, which released thousands of gallons of water. The water extinguished the fire but caused damage to the auditorium.

Church officials said the water overflow was limited to a 50-foot area in front of the pulpit.

About 45 firefighters responded and spent more than two hours cleaning up the water, Asay said.

The Conference Center is home of the twice-yearly general conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 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.

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