100-year-old home in Sugar House damaged in early morning fire

Posted at 8:41 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 22:41:20-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Firefighters now think they know what sparked a fire in Sugar House early Monday morning. The blaze damaged the 100-year-old home, which sits at 1733 S. 1300 East.

Crews arrived on scene shortly after the call came in around 5:45 a.m. Firefighters quickly pinpointed where the fire seemed to start.

“The fire did originate in the basement near the mechanical room,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay.

The real challenge came in battling the weather. Snow obscured obstacles outside the home.

"There is a swimming pool that was kind of covered over with snow,” Asay said. “One of our firefighters accidentally fell into the swimming pool."

Luckily, Asay said, a cover shielded the pool. The firefighter stayed dry, but needed help to get back onto solid ground.

Another issue crews had was connecting to water. Residents weren’t quite up yet to shovel off the neighborhood hydrants.

"Couple of the hydrants that we would have used were covered in snow, and so that presented another challenge for us," Asay explained.

They did eventually get past the problems, and squash the flames and smoke that saturated the three floors of the home.

Investigators also figured out the exact culprit- touching electrical wires in the basement mechanical room.

Asay said between the home and basement apartment, five residents made it out safely and now have another place to stay.

But the fire didn’t just destroy a home. It wrecked a piece of history.

A small plaque next to the home’s front door states the house, built in 1915, served as the Westminster College President’s Home.

According to Asay, it served that role until the 1960s, and is now privately owned.

It sits across the street from Westminster College, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Utah.

“As of right now we don't have an estimate on damage,” Asay said.

While the fire and smoke did damage a huge portion of the home, Asay said it didn’t appear to be a total loss and it could be possible to salvage what’s left.