Fire destroyed a Midvale apartment Saturday afternoon, but a mentally challenged man was saved from serious injury thanks to a neighbor.

About 4:30 p.m., emergency crews got a 911 hang-up call from an apartment near 600 West and 8200 South. About the same time, police received a call of a possible person down, said Midvale Fire Battalion Chief Curtis Day.

What emergency crews found when they arrived was heavy smoke pouring out of the front door of the apartment and intense flames knocking out the windows.

Before police and fire arrived, neighbors noticed the fire first. A neighbor from across the street ran into the burning house and helped the lone occupant, a man in his 50s, out, Day said. The man, who is mentally challenged and lives by himself, apparently froze at the sight of the fire and needed assistance leaving, he said.

"He didn't know what to do," Day said.

The man suffered minor smoke inhalation. A police officer also was slightly injured breaking out a window while trying to yell inside to see if anyone else was in the apartment.

Fire crews from several jurisdictions fought the blaze, which Day said was putting out "intense flames" and "intense heat." They managed to prevent the fire from spreading to any of the other units of the six-plex. The man's apartment is uninhabitable, Day said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Saturday night. When asked whether it appeared to be accidental or a suspicious in origin, Day said, "Every option is being investigated."

The fire apparently started in the back part of the apartment, he said.


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