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Fatal Draper house fire was intentionally set, investigators say

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(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) It could take months to determine what caused a fatal explosion and subsequent fire at a Draper home on Friday at 15082 S. Junction Circle (235 East) according to Unified Fire officials. The home which was leveled in the blast and fire damaged adjacent homes and killed Paul Broadhurst, 40, who died from injuries at University Hospital's burn unit in Salt Lake City on Friday evening.

By Erin Alberty

and Jessica Miller

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 28 2014 10:33AM
Updated Jul 29, 2014 07:10PM

A fatal explosion Friday at a Draper home appears to have been sparked deliberately, investigators have determined.

Accelerant was found in multiple locations inside the home of 40-year-old Paul Broadhurst, who died from injuries he suffered in the early-morning fire at 15082 S. Junction Circle (235 East), said Unified Fire Authority battalion chief Brian Anderton. No one else appears to have been in the home at the time.

While Anderton stopped short of saying definitively that Broadhurst set the fire, he noted that "right now we are not looking for any suspects."

Someone called police to Broadhurst’s home to check on his welfare about the same time the fire broke out, but Anderton had no details as to who made the call or why they thought Broadhurst may have needed help.

Investigators have not been able to identify the accelerant that was in the house or where the fire originated.

"I don’t know that we’ll ever truly know the exact cause of the fire," Anderton said. "We’ll just know it was an act of intention."

The fire was reported just after 7:20 a.m. Friday and leveled the two-story home, leaving just the frame and foundation. Neighbors ran to help Broadhurst, who was flown to a hospital.

Unified Fire officials said Monday in a news release that while the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, investigators — with the assistance of Questar Gas — have ruled out natural gas as playing a role.

"At this time, it is believe[d] that some other form of accelerant, as detected by trained canines, was used and contributed to the rapid fire spread," the news release reads. "UFA is not currently pursuing any active leads or suspects."

The rest of Broadhurst’s family was away from the house at the time of the explosion.

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