UPDATE: A donation drive is underway for those affected by the fire. See Facebook post below for details.
SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Dozens of people are homeless following a huge, three alarm blaze in South Salt Lake City.
The fire started around 3 a.m. Thursday morning at the Shenandoah Apartments located at 3300 South and 350 East.
Investigators are now trying to determine the cause of the fire that they are calling suspicious
Not long after the last hot spots were doused, a full blown investigation was underway involving the fire marshal and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
When the first crews from South Salt Lake Fire arrived the building was already fully engulfed in flames.
They quickly called for a second and then a third alarm, while running from door to door, waking people up and getting them out.
"I heard someone say fire!," resident Erik Butterworth said. "And then I walked out my door and looked out and got my daughter and ran out and that was the end of it, I just left everything there, she’s more important."
"Clearly, yeah! Was she a little bit freaked out? the reporter asked? "Yeah she was a little bit freaked out. First the earthquake then this ... and the virus," Butterworth added, shaking his head.
Crews from Salt Lake City, Unified Fire, Murray and West Valley City joined the South Salt firefighters and spent the next several hours pouring thousands of gallons of water on the burning building.
“It was a coordinated fire attack and rescue at the same time," South Salt Lake Fire Department Chief Terry Addison said.
Ruben Medina rushed his wife and two infant children out of their apartment but he had to leave his dog behind.
“We were all crying on our way to the hospital and the whole time there until they called us and told us that he had made it out," Medina said.
This is like a miracle puppy because according to the firefighters, he was inside the whole time
"The whole time yeah! We had to leave him in there to get the kids out, Medina said. "I think he was under the bed to stay away from the smoke, that’s normally where he hides is under our bed.“
The young children were not seriously injured.
Once the shock and adrenaline wore off, residents arrived to survey the damage, trying to figure out what if anything they can salvage.
“I just had the firefighters hand me my phone, which works," resident Jared Montgomery said. "My glasses and a couple of ID and debit cards but also being in the basement there’s about 2 feet of water in it, the front room is completely gone.”
It appears as though at least a dozen cars are completely destroyed along with much of the apartment building.
Damage is estimated to be at least $1 million.