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August Miller, Deseret Morning News
Fire crews work to put out the remnants of a fire that burned the DV8 building as crews from McKay Demolition work to demolish it in Salt Lake City, Utah Thursday, Jan.24, 2008.

In the late '80s through the mid- to late '90s, it was the top place in the state to see live alternative music.

Club DV8, 115 S. West Temple, opened in 1989 and at first was just a watering hole with a dance floor. That changed in 1991 when Karen Springer purchased the club. She started booking live concerts, and DV8 quickly became one of the hottest venues in Salt Lake City.

"I can't even think of all the different bands we had," she said Thursday while trying to remember some of the top performances. "Pearl Jam, Primus, the Cranberries, No Doubt ... Blind Melon ... Social Distortion, 311, Bo Diddley, Cheap Trick, Live, Modern English ... Barenaked Ladies."

"There was so much stuff that went through there," said Jason Farrell, a former DV8 concert promoter.

By the end of Thursday, however, all that was left of the popular club were memories. Demolition crews knocked down the unsafe building, less than 24 hours after a massive four-alarm fire roared through the structure.

Salt Lake building officials Thursday determined the club was structurally unsafe and needed to be demolished immediately, said Salt Lake Deputy Fire Chief Dan Andrus.

"That building is just brittle and ready to collapse," he said.

Because of that, even fire investigators were not allowed to go inside the structure.

"It is likely we'll never determine a cause, unless a reliable witness steps forward," Andrus said.

Fire officials, however, are looking for a person who is believed to have been inside the vacant building Wednesday night. Investigators "found evidence that a person had been in the area of the club prior to the start of the fire," according to a statement released by the fire department Thursday night.

Officials said they could not be specific but urged anyone with information to contact the arson hotline at 877-572-7766.

"This is not a conclusion that the fire was caused by arson," according to the statement.

The fire began about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday and involved nearly 70 firefighters from Salt Lake City and the Unified Fire Authority.

DV8 was one of the buildings that comprised Arrow Press Square. Adjacent buildings in the old complex were vacant. The other L-shaped building, Arrowhead Press, wrapped around DV8 on two sides. The rear of the Arrow Press building was home to the old Dead Goat Saloon.

Vasilios Priskos, co-owner of the buildings on Arrow Press Square, watched Thursday as a wrecking ball took down the old DV8. He said the building, which he owned for nine months, was not insurable, even before the fire, because of structural issues. He said Thursday it needed to be torn down to avoid the liability of it crumbling on a person or another business.

Priskos estimated the cost of rebuilding to be between $3 million and $5 million — which is a goal of his.

"I bought the buildings to do something with them, not to sit on them," he said.

Priskos did not know the cause of the fire but said there had been a big problem with transients in the building next to DV8. In fact, a transient was found sleeping in the old Dead Goat about 2 a.m. Thursday, even after fire crews had been working for hours on the building next door, he said.

On Thursday, memories of DV8 from those directly involved with its operation or those who just had a fun night there were exchanged.

Springer said since Wednesday night she has heard from a lot of people who have memories of a show or meeting a future husband or some lasting recollection of the club.

Farrell said what made DV8 different from today's club scene was that even though it only held 500 people, it still drew top acts. Everyone from Tool to Love and Rockets to the Psychedelic Furs to Ice-T played at DV8, he said.

But Farrell admitted there were some parts of the old building he's not going to miss.

"I don't think anyone misses those elevators or stairs," he said, half-jokingly.

Springer, who sold the club in 2001, said she was watching TV Wednesday night when she saw news of the fire.

"It was sad, it was really sad," she said. "That's 10 years of my life. The shows, the work, the good and the bad. It's a hard business, but it was a fun business. It was a really cool time to be doing that kind of thing."

In 2004 the Salt Lake Fire Department closed the club for, ironically, fire code violations because the sprinkler system was not up to par, Andrus said.

"The building was not safe to be occupied."

Contributing: Aaron Falk

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com