SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City fire investigators have determined that an overnight apartment fire was human caused, likely from transient activity.
Firefighters were called out to a two-alarm fire at 1476 South 200 East at 2:51 a.m. on Sunday. Authorities said the fire originated in a shed behind the two-story apartment building.
The fire spread to one of the apartments on the second floor. That unit suffered fire damage while five other apartments in the building suffered smoke and water damage. The shed was completely destroyed.
Four of the six apartments appeared to have been occupied, officials said. The five residents of the building had escaped the blaze by the time firefighters arrived. No injuries were reported.
The Red Cross was on-scene to help the displaced residents find a place to stay.
Salt Lake resident Donald Sannoh took cell phone video as flames ravaged a carport and inched closer to the apartment building next door where he lives.
"This place was all red," Sannoh said.
Sparks also flew as the fire took out a power pole.
"It was scary because it was like popping things," he said. "And when I (woke) up, somebody said, 'Oh, there's a fire back there, you guys need to leave.'"
"You can see the meters are melted, so it got hot and that transferred to the building," said property manager Grant Sibley. "My hat's off to the fire department. They did a tremendous job. It could have been so much worse."
Investigators said the fire appeared to have started in a shed behind the building. They also said there are reports of homeless people living in the building.Comment on this story
Sannoh said that he has seen transients occasionally smoking and doing drugs on the premises. Sibley noted that some transients look for shelter from the cold. He said that he has had to ask them to leave.
"We manage several properties throughout the valley and there’s one or two here in the area and it's something that is a complaint that happens from time to time," Sibley said.
Fire investigators said they are looking for the squatting transients, so they can determine if the fire was an accident or intentional.
Sibley said that despite the damage, there is a bright side to this unfortunate situation.
"Thank goodness nobody was hurt," he said.