Mormon Conference Center fire caused $500K in damage, fire officials say

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  • Zoniezoobie Mesa, AZ
    April 23, 2012 8:28 a.m.

    One of the biggest concerns of readers outside Utah is if the walnut tree pulpit was damaged. The DN says the water fell from above the pulpit, yet the pulpit is never mentioned as having been damaged or not, nor confirmed if it was even in place.

  • jarka-rus Layton, Utah
    April 21, 2012 2:35 p.m.

    Glad to hear nobody was hurt and there wasn't a lot of damage to the conference center. I also hoped the pulpit wasn't damaged, its a great reminder of an even greater man.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 20, 2012 10:43 p.m.

    The mechanical room where the fire occured is described as "almost directly over the pulpit". We also learn that the damage is said to have been "limited to a 50-foot area in front of the pulpit". How big of an area is the "pulpit" itself? Does this include the whole area where general authorities, their wives and the general auxiliary officers sit, as well as where the chior sits? That is a pretty big area. The 50-feet measure seems to be one direction. This is 50-feet by some other not specififeid distiaance. If it was 50 feet by 50 feet the total area affected would be 2500 feet. Of course this would assume no damage to the "pulpit".

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 20, 2012 10:36 p.m.

    Actually it makes a lot of sense to be self-insured if you are a large organization like the Church. The point of insurance is to pool risk. It is cheaper to just cover jointly all your risk if you are large enough to spread it out.

    Another reason the damage costs may be so great is that the floor of the area may have been wrecked. The repairs may require pulling up the floor and putting in a new floor. There may be sub-floor repairs needed as well.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 20, 2012 10:29 p.m.

    That seems like a lot of damage. I guess it is good that this was just after general conference, so there is not as pressing a need for repairs as if it had been in mid-September.

  • dave31 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 20, 2012 8:52 p.m.

    I was amused to see the address in the article listed as 60 N. West Temple. Come on Deseret News!! The Conference Center is not evan on that block. That address is on the West side of Temple Square. Would it be unreasonable for readers to assume that someone at the newspaper might pay attention to this?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 20, 2012 11:54 a.m.

    Northbournd Zax,

    I think this is kind of like body damage to your car.

    The damage to the car may be small, but getting it to look right and not "patched" is often where the cost is.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    April 20, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    To Kathybeebee,

    The fire may have been started by electrical batteries, but that doesn't mean it was an electrical fire, they probably set fire to combustibles in the room.

    The cost of the damage does sound extreme, like getting a little ding in my car bumper and an estimate of a couple of thousand to fix it.

    It may have only damaged some much area on the floor -- they set up the fans around the area to dry, not just right on top of what got wet. But in addition to the floor, there was also the ceiling where the water came through and the mechanical room, from both fire and water damage that needs to be repaired. The church isn't going to just coat the area with Kilz and give it a band-aid type cover up. It will be as good as new.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    April 20, 2012 8:35 a.m.

    At least this didn't happen during a general conference session. Imagine how that would have gone down...

  • TOR Galveston, TX
    April 20, 2012 7:48 a.m.

    A Scientist is correct. The church is self-insured (as in, operates their own legitimate insurance company), which allows them to save money worldwide on insurance premiums. Not unlike (on a much smaller personal scale) having an emergency savings fund for car repairs.

    How great is it to have those in charge of the finances of the church making wise financial decisions which allows the church to stay out of debt, provide for the needs of the members, and deal with problems like this fire?

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    April 20, 2012 6:52 a.m.


    Yes, the Church is led by very smart business executives andHarvard MBAs.

    The Church is self-insured.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    April 19, 2012 10:49 p.m.


    The church is also smart and will let the insurance cover this. Therefore the church can use all of its money for other important things.

  • Lakers Sandy, UT
    April 19, 2012 9:04 p.m.

    I'm guessing the high damage cost must be to buy new backup batteries- they can't be cheap for a building so large. The chairs and carpet can probably be dried and reused, but they wouldn't cost 500k even if they were purchased new. I'm wondering whether the battery manufacturers had any kind of warranty or liability; the fire never should have happened

  • Hi Huntington Beach, CA
    April 19, 2012 8:20 p.m.

    The pulpit is taken out unless it is being used. They will tell you this if you take a tour of the building. I have taken many at different times of the year and the pulpit is always put away unless it is out for a meeting.

  • NorthboundZax Makanda, IL
    April 19, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    $500K for a 50ft area? Wow!

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    April 19, 2012 6:55 p.m.

    We are glad no on was hurt. There are still left unanswered questions about how so much water was involved. If the two sprinkler heads were of a type used in most applications, it would have taken about six hours to discharge the "tens of thousands of gallons of water" mentioned several times by SLCFD personnel. So, either the heads flowed undetected for five or so hours. (This is unlikely because all such systems are required to be monitored. Or there was a major line break, or the sprinkler heads were of an unusual, high deluge type.

  • Zoniezoobie Mesa, AZ
    April 19, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    The trib says the pulpit was undamaged, but no media has confirmed if the pulpit was anywhere near the falling water and if it even got wet. The DN says the water came from directly above the pulpit, but did not confirm if the pulpit was still in place since conference. The pulpit may have been moved to storage in advance of other events.

  • kathybeebee Ephrata, WA
    April 19, 2012 6:31 p.m.

    You can use water to extinguish an electrical fire??? I thought that was a no-no.

  • LunarCanyon South Jordan, UT
    April 19, 2012 6:02 p.m.

    Damage in about 50 square feet in front of the pulpit? Yet the fans are spread out over more than a thousand square feet-I'm confused.

  • Silver Aspen SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    April 19, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    I just hope the pulpit used for General Conference is OK. I loved President Hinkley's story about that. Everything else is hopefully replaceable.