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Tenants, nearby residents react to deadly downtown SLC fire

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 00:28:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY — It was a tense time for residents at the Silverado Apartments after a fire broke out early Monday morning.

Sam Cottrell has lived in the downtown Salt Lake City apartment building for 16 years.

"It sounded like an atomic bomb. I thought it was the end of the world myself, but I looked out the window and I saw nothing but orange," he said.

Cottrell didn't waste any time, grabbing his dog, Buddy, and quickly getting out of his apartment building

"I just got out and everybody was out here," Cottrell said.

Unfortunately, one of his neighbors was killed and two of his friends living there are now in the hospital. Fire officials say those two residents suffered burns during the fire.

The fire caught the attention of dozens of residents in the area, like David Peterson.

"I heard this blast that was probably one of the loudest things I've been in proximity of," he said. "I would say it didn't hurt my ears, but it frightened me beyond belief."

It was something Hunter Moffat heard from where he lives as well, just down the street from the now-scorched building at 243 S. 300 East.

He said it prompted him to go over and see what happened.

"I got my roommate up and started running towards it because I just wanted to see what was going on," Moffat said. "When we got here... there was this whole side of this building was completely inflamed."

The Salt Lake City Fire Department worked most of the morning to contain the blaze, which they believe started on the first floor of the older three-story building.

In the process, three firefighters were also injured. One hurt his hand, one suffered from exhaustion, and another rolled his ankle.

Fire officials are calling this an unintentional or accidental fire, but it is still under investigation.

Officials said the building didn't have a sprinkler system.

Now, the residents of all 13 units in the building have been displaced, including Cottrell.

While he was running on little to no sleep, Cottrell is trying to remain optimistic.

"It could have been worse, you know, just thankful that it wasn't," he said.

Cottrell said the American Red Cross gave him a $500 debit card to get a motel room for a couple of nights. After that, he says, he'll have to pay out of his pocket to find another place to stay for the time being.