A rash of major fires in the valley, including a Sunday night blaze that caused $47,000 damage to a Central City apartment building, may mark the beginning of "a long, hot summer," a fire official said.

Salt Lake Fire Department crews were called to 608-610 E. Seventh South about 8:40 p.m. and arrived to find flames leaping from the roof of a 2-unit apartment building, said Battalion Chief Jerry Duke.Twenty-four hours earlier, firefighters from five valley departments were battling another blaze at a Midvale apartment complex that gutted the 22-unit building.

"One of the problems we're experiencing is we're already into a long, hot summer," Duke said, adding that although several recent fires are apparently unrelated, summer often is accompanied by a high volume of major fires.

Sunday's fire caused $40,000 fire damage and $7,000 smoke and water damage to the home, Duke said, and forced the evacuation of several occupants. The cause of the blaze was still being investigated, he said.

Four fire engines and two ladder trucks responded to the blaze. Firemen doused flames on the home's roof while another crew cooled adjacent buildings with water, Duke said.

Passer-by Ralph Elnes, Salt Lake City, noticed smoke coming from the home about 8:40 p.m. and stopped his car.

"I saw the smoke and ran in the building, and the people were panic-stricken," he said.

While the residents removed personal belongings, Elnes searched the building for any others overcome by smoke, he said.

Fire crews found no one in the home after a preliminary search. Elnes was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but not hospitalized.

The cause of Saturday night's Midvale apartment fire, which gutted one of 28 buildings in the Inglenook Apartments, 7201 S. 130 West, was also being investigated. That blaze forced the evacuation of 30 residents, witnesses said.

Midvale Fire Chief Merrill Ross said evidence from the fire was taken to the state crime lab Monday morning, and it will probably be Wednesday before any results are returned.

Damage to the apartment building and contents was estimated at $350,000, Ross said.

A midtown apartment fire Saturday morning at the Lorna Doone Apartments, 320 E. First South, forced the evacuation of all 28 residents, some of whom were elderly or blind.

Those fires follow a rash of Salt Lake area fires, including a $200,000 fire Tuesday in Midvale that charred an Alied Development Co. surplus storage site.

A Wednesday fire caused $250,000 damage to Purcell Tire and Rubber Co. in Murray. Several barn fires were also reported Wednesday, and three more smaller blazes caused an estimated $77,500 damage Thursday night.