Oil-soaked towels likely sparked fire at Salt Lake fire station

Posted at 7:17 PM, Mar 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-16 15:48:48-04

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Arson Task Force they it believes said oil-soaked towels used to clean a grill spontaneously combusted and led to the fire at the Salt Lake City fire station March 3.

Officials said firefighters at Station No. 2 near 270 W. 300 N. heard a smoke alarm beeping when they discovered the fire.

The task force has made three recommendations to prevent this from happening again.

  • Integrated smoke detectors in all SLCFD fire stations
  • Receptacles for oil-contaminated linens in each fire station
  • Elimination of all extension cords used in lieu of permanent wiring

Officials said SLC Fire has already started implementing these recommendations.

SALT LAKE CITY – While they’re trained to fight fires every day, Salt Lake City fire crews never expected to be fighting one at their own station.

“No one thinks there’s going to be a fire at their house, let alone a fire station,” said Capt. Steve Hoffman of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

At 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, Hoffman says he heard a loud noise upstairs.

"You think, ‘Oh, who's making noise? Somebody's up in the kitchen,’” Hoffman said. “ That noise kept getting louder and louder and louder at the point where you know, [you] better go check and see what's going on.”

When one of the captains went upstairs, he saw flames engulfing the hallway of the second floor leading up to the third floor--where nine firefighters were sleeping.

“Once he yelled 'fire, fire, fire,' they opened up that door and were hit with all that smoke and heat. And so, you know, they actually had to take a second from being woken up, breathing in all that smoke and heat to figure out 'OK, now what's really going on?'” Hoffman said.

The on-duty firefighters rushed into action to put out the blaze. Luckily, everyone was able to make it out of the building safely.

Hoffman says even though his crew is experienced and trained, it was still a frightening moment.

“It's a pretty emotional experience when your family members are upstairs in a fire, because that's who they are,” Hoffman said. “They're our family members.”

Authorities report water and smoke damage throughout the building. An investigation is underway to determine what caused the blaze.

"Once the investigation is complete, we'll be able to repair the damage and hopefully move our crews back in there in the near future,” said Jasen Asay from the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

In the meantime, other stations in Salt Lake City are responding to emergencies Station Two would normally cover.

“It’s a great effort by our firefighters to get into the area of Station Two and to respond to calls in there in a timely manner without having to actually operate out of Station Two,” Asay said.