Salt Lake firefighters fought the fourth house fire in less than a week Tuesday, but unlike the other three that took two lives and caused extensive damage and injuries, this one was less serious.
Nevertheless, fire officials are concerned about a recent rash of springtime fires - some that appear to have been purposely set and others that have been caused by carlessness."We seem to get them all at once. They come in spurts," said Salt Lake Battalion Chief Gordon Nicholl. "These fires are starting to get serious, and we're starting to get real concerned about it.
"We're especially concerned with these fires that seem to be suspicious in origin."
Firefighters were able to extinguish Tuesday's blaze at 1845 S. Eighth East within a few minutes. The fire was confined to an east bedroom, and damage was estimated at $5,000, he said.
Investigators say the cause of the fire was a cigarette left smoldering in the bedroom - the same source of Sunday's house fire at 333 S. Second East that caused $75,000 damage. Last year, 147 fires in Salt Lake alone were started by cigarettes, Nicholl said.
Shortly after Tuesday's fire was extinguished, police and fire officials at the scene got a scare from the resident, Mike Meguerditchian, who walked across the street holding a loaded .38 caliber pistol. Fireman Joe Shern grabbed the gun from behind him and kept it until police were called over to question him.
Krikotz Meguerditchian said his brother had the gun because there had been problems with robberies and thefts at the house.
No one was home when the blaze broke out and no injuries were reported. Several engines responded to the fire, and the chief said that is because only three firefighters accompanied each one.
"We're running so short on manpower right now that it's really concerned us," he said.
Four firefighters were burned in an arson-caused blaze Monday at 720 N. Third West that started in a window well outside the house. Last Friday, a 4-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl died in a house fire at 943 E. South Temple.
Lorin Clark, 6, remained in critical condition at University Hospital Wednesday with injuries suffered in the fire. Her father, John Clark, 40, was in fair condition at Holy Cross Hospital. Fire officials say the fire started near a coffee pot on a kitchen counter, but the exact cause still has not been determined.