Crowds return to site of apartment building consumed by flames

Posted at 9:53 PM, Feb 10, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- It was hard to miss the 4-alarm fire in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday night, as evidenced by the crowds of people who lined the sidewalk to catch sight of a blaze that became as big a spectacle as it was an emergency.

“There were so many flames coming down that we had to move,” said Prescott Dunn, who filmed the fire from the Smith’s parking lot across the street.

On Monday, Dunn and several others returned to the site to see construction crews begin demolishing a portion of the structure.

“It puts it into perspective that something like that could happen,” Dunn said.

The 64,000-square-foot building was supposed to house 61 new apartments upon completion, but after burning for hours, only its skeletal remains were left standing.

“The fire last night was just giant, a lot of flames, a lot of damage done,” said Jasen Asay, spokesman for the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Because of the extensive damage, fire investigators were not able to go inside the property on Monday due to safety concerns. Construction crews knocked out the top floors of the structure to remove any obvious dangers, though, and Asay expected fire officials to enter the property by Tuesday.

Per protocol, the building had just been inspected by the city fire marshal on Saturday, leaving much room for speculation as to what happened between then and when the fire started.

“The cause for this fire is still open and it could be a lot of different things,” Asay said. “And we’re not ready to get worried, or to be concerned about something when we don’t have any reason to be concerned about that yet.”

Investigators were expected to enter the property on Wednesday.