SALT LAKE CITY — Kelly Maxwell was asleep in his apartment when he heard sirens Thursday morning.
"Something was like, 'You should get up and check out what those sirens are,'" he said.
After cracking open a window and smelling smoke, Maxwell grabbed a backpack full of his most valuable items and left his apartment.
Around 6:30 a.m., firefighters responded to 53 S. 300 East where smoke was coming from the top floor of an apartment building. Quick action by crews kept the apartment fire from spreading, according to Salt Lake fire spokesman Jasen Asay.
Crews found fire in the walls and ceiling of the building and began evacuating residents who lived nearest to the fire. Because of the chilly weather, crews asked those who lived farther away from the fire to shelter in place while crews fought the blaze, Asay said.
"With an apartment building like this, one of the main concerns is if the fire gets into the wall and into the ceiling it can quickly spread to other apartments," Asay said.
Firefighters called in a second alarm for other crews to help contain the blaze and assist with the evacuations.
Firefighters lugged hoses, 70 pounds of gear and other equipment up three flights of stairs.
"It takes a great effort, so a great job by our crews today to quickly get up there and get the fire under control and extinguished. Had the fire spread through the attic, it could have gone to a few more apartments and then it would have spread from there and we would have had more people displaced and a lot more damage," Asay said.
One apartment received severe damage and another unit received moderate damage. Two people were displaced because of the fire. Investigators did not yet have an estimate of the damage the fire caused.
The cause of the fire is under investigation but appears to have begun in the ceiling near a light, according to Asay.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Contributing: Shara Park