WEST JORDAN — The nefarious black mold that lurks in Utah's uncommonly damp places — making homes and buildings uninhabitable — has struck again.

This time, the mold has infiltrated a West Jordan fire station with spores so toxic the station's doors were shuttered last week and the four firefighters usually stationed at No. 54 had to be relocated to the fire department's headquarters.

It was unexpected.

There are holes in the 30-year-old station's roof — the suspected source of water that provided necessary moisture for the mold — and the bathroom needs remodeling, but the 4-foot swath of mold found behind the bathroom's wall at the end of May was a surprise.

"It looks just like if you had mold on your bread," said West Jordan's Assistant Fire Chief Marc McElreath. "That stuff is green, but this stuff is black. ... As we did more research on the health effect of the mold in the air, we thought it was best for the safety of the firefighters to close the station."

The area serviced by station No. 54, located at 9352 S. 5595 West, is partly residential, but mostly industrial. While the station is closed, West Jordan's fire department has asked the Unified Fire Authority and South Jordan — the closest fire agencies to the area — to help, McElreath said.

"We have a hole in that part of the city right now," McElreath said. "We'll continue to make adjustments and come up with as many ways we can to make sure that area is protected to the best of our ability with both fire protection and medical calls."

The City Council has approved $7,500 to patch the station's roof and clean up the mold, but the council is also considering other, longer-term remedies. One option is to put a new 10-year roof on the building for an estimated $40,000. A second option is to put a new 30-year roof on the building for an estimated $70,000 and a third option is to tear down the station and build a new fire and police station in its place for an estimated $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

"The question of whether we're going to rebuild the station or not centers on the need for expanded services," Councilwoman Melissa Johnson said. "Currently, the fire station won't accommodate the projected growth for that area, and it's not accommodating to a police station, either."

A new station could be built to house seven firefighters instead of four, Johnson said. The council is waiting to make a decision until they have more information on the details of how much a new station would cost and whether the station could be paid for by impact fees, Johnson said.

It's not known how pervasive the mold in the station is, Johnson said, and that factor will also have an impact on the council's decision.

"Wherever the mold issues are, we will take care of them," Johnson said. "That's not going to be something that's going to be left around in the fire station. There is no intention to allow the mold problem to continue."


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com