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Arson suspect arrested in huge Salt Lake City fire

Published February 16, 2014 4:02 pm

Crime • Electrician had been working on the apartment project.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Authorities on Friday arrested an electrician they believe ignited the Salt Lake City apartment fire that was visible for miles.

Dustin Jay Bowman, 33, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on Friday. Bowman had been working for Conelco-Conrad Electric Inc., a subcontractor on the apartment project, on and off for years, said Conelco-Conrad owner Dave Conrad.

Bowman had worked on the apartment project for about two weeks, Conrad said. State records show Bowman, of Bountiful, has been a licensed electrician since 2010.

Bowman posted a news story of the fire, and photos of the aftermath, to his Facebook page.

"I guess I'm not going to work," Bowman wrote the morning after the blaze, adding that he "can't really afford a day off."

Salt Lake County jail booking documents say that Bowman stated he intentionally caused the fire. Formal charges have not been filed in the arson.

Bowman is being held on suspicion of arson as well as two misdemeanor warrants from the South Salt Lake Justice Court. The jail's website indicates Bowman has not been issued a bail amount.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives announced the arrest. It has been working with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, sifting through the remains of the under construction apartment complex at 540 E. 500 South that went up in flames.

"We've been working all week with [the investigators], who have done an exceptional job of being thorough and analyzing every possible detail about what could have created the fire," said Dan Bridenstine, owner of U.S. Development, the general contractor for the project.

Bridenstine said he had not heard any details of the arrest or suspected cause of the blaze, but hoped to learn them on Monday.

The inferno Sunday evening did not cause any injuries, but caused $2.5 million in damage. The apartment complex was under construction, and U.S. Development told the fire investigators that the building did not have any utilities or heat source yet.

The fire spread quickly through the exposed lumber and siding, creating a spectacular orange glow visible in the Salt Lake Valley darkness.

The investigation forced the city to close off the 500 East block of 500 South. The Salt Lake City police do not anticipate the road reopening until at least Tuesday.

Bowman has prior felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug offenses.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda