Homeowner escapes two-alarm house fire in Federal Heights

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 7:05 a.m. MDT

Aftermath of a fire at 1377 E. Tomahawk Drive in Salt Lake City, Monday, March 18, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An elderly man escaped injury early Monday when a two-alarm fire roared through the attic of his Federal Heights home.

The fire at 1377 E. Tomahawk Drive (610 North) started about 5:30 a.m. Salt Lake City fire crews were first notified of the blaze by a security company that was alerted to a problem by smoke detectors in the house.

The first arriving firefighters saw flames coming from the roof, said Salt Lake fire spokesman Jasen Asay. At first, crews thought the house was vacant because of the For Sale sign in front, he said.

But when crews entered the house, they found the homeowner — a man reportedly in his 90s — walking around. The man could smell the smoke, but Asay did not know if the man was disoriented or why he didn't get out of the house immediately.

Firefighters helped the man get out and then went back inside to get him his shoes and a robe to stay warm, Asay said.

The house sits high atop a hillside, next to the mountains. One of the challenges firefighters faces was running about 1,000 feet of hose from the fire hydrant on the street to the house. In addition, only a limited number of fire trucks could fit on the man's long, narrow driveway. Most firefighters had to hike uphill on the driveway to get to the house.

Two years ago, a fire captain visited the house to talk to the homeowner and other residents about wildfire safety in the summer.

That same captain happened to be on duty Monday at the department's Station No. 4 in the Avenues. He remembered the layout of the home, which helped firefighters maneuver more quickly, Asay said. The fire was contained to the attic area.

The cause of the fire was still being investigated Monday, but Asay said a possible electrical problem was suspected. He said the homeowner noted that he had had his roof worked on about a month ago.

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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