An apartment fire sparked Wednesday by an automatic coffeemaker flared when neighbors opened the apartment's front door, turning an indoor stairway into a chimney that drew the blaze to the building's upper story.
Eight apartments in the 16-unit building were evacuated but no one was injured in the fire at the Brookwood Park Apartments, 3854 W. Rockwood Way (3390 South). The fire caused an estimated $100,000 damage, said West Valley fire marshal John Blundell.The coffeemaker apparently was left plugged in while the apartment resident was at work, and the fire burned for some time before it was discovered shortly before 5 p.m., Blundell said.
The fire spread quickly from the ground-floor apartment because someone who was either trying to fight the fire or check to see if anyone was inside opened the front door and left it open, Blundell said. That fed the fire and allowed it to climb the central stairway to the building's upper story.
"The stairway acted as a chimney," Blundell said. "It was a very dangerous situation with a fire in the exit way for the four (upper) units."
About 20 firefighters from the three West Valley fire stations and a Salt Lake County ladder truck division responded to the fire, which broke windows and caused extensive damage to two units and smoke damage to three others.
The apartment complex manager said three people whose apartments were damaged stayed in unoccupied units in another part of the large complex, and others - including the woman whose coffeemaker ignited while she was at work - stayed with family and friends. All will be able to move into other apartments in the complex within three days, the manager said.
Blundell said he doesn't know if the coffeemaker boiled dry, or if it just had electrical problems.