Usually, the destruction of illegal transient camps pitched in the Salt Lake Valley’s urban forest areas and vacant parcels is cause for at least muted celebration.
That was not the case on Wednesday, however, when what Murray Fire Marshal Pat Killian described as "a pretty elaborate," well-organized campsite along the Van Winkle Expressway (4665 S.) and 900 East went up in flames.
The 11:45 a.m. blaze consumed the shelters, accumulated stacks of firewood and hundreds of collected aluminum cans that made up the abode of a middle-aged, otherwise unidentified homeless man locally known as "The Landlord."
"They call him that because he tends to clean up the area, collecting the cans to turn in for cash. Some local businesses have even been providing him with food," Killian said.
The Landlord has become a local fixture, camping in the area through the winter months and into this spring and summer. Unlike other transient campers, who sometimes are lying low due to active warrants, or have drug and alcohol addictions or mental health problems, the man reportedly had a good relationship with law enforcement, as well.
Now, though, The Landlord has lost everything to a fire that investigators are still looking into.
The good news, Killian said, was that Murray firefighters were able to quickly respond before the flames spread too far into thick, adjacent brush, keeping the fire to less than an acre.
No one was injured.
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