Police have arrested a 27-year-old man following a fire that broke out early Thursday morning in a Murray apartment building and displaced about 50 people.
Firefighters arrived at the Stillwater Apartments at 726 E. Lakepoint Drive shortly before 3 a.m. to find one of about 20 buildings in the complex in flames. According to the Murray City Fire Department, residents reported hearing a popping noise before the fire began.
Officers later arrested the 27-year-old after a witness linked the man to the fire, according to a probable cause statement. The witness told officers that he saw the man on a third-floor balcony and that the man told him, “There’s about to be a fire,” and laughed. The witness said he later saw the man running down some stairs yelling “fire.”
Apartment residents evacuated the building without any injuries, and firefighters later brought the blaze under control. One firefighter injured a knee.
The upper floor of the 24-unit building was heavily damaged in the blaze. Murray fire officials said the apartment manager was working with the Red Cross to help people who lost their homes find a place to stay.
Police found the 27-year-old man, who was booked into the Salt Lake County jail a little before 5 a.m., at the apartment complex. He reportedly told them he doused his apartment in lighter fluid and started a fire because police were following him, according to the probable cause statement.
Investigators brought in a police dog who indicated that some kind of fire accelerant was on the man’s shoes. The man was booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony. Judge Keith Kelly signed an order to hold the man in jail without bail, saying if released on bond he’d “constitute a substantial danger” to others, or that he might leave the area.
Another apartment building fire broke out Thursday evening at the Towers on Main apartments, with two firefighters treated for heat exhaustion, a resident treated for smoke inhalation, and a firefighter treated for injuries in a fall. According to FOX 13, firefighters were dispatched just before 6 p.m., and crews were able to extinguish the blaze and keep it contained to one unit of the apartment building.
Salt Lake City firefighters responded to another fire at the Four Seasons Village condos at 1601 W. 400 South about 3 a.m. on Friday. The fire was contained to a single unit, and firefighters were able to extinguish it in about an hour.
One person was taken to a hospital after suffering smoke inhalation, according to the Salt Lake City Fire Department. Residents of nearby condominiums were evacuated, but will be allowed to return to their homes sometime Friday.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The three fires bring the total fo five this week and six in the past two weeks to destroy or damage apartment buildings along the Wasatch Front. Two of the buildings were under construction, and four were occupied.
• On Monday night, an apartment building under construction near 28th Street and Grant Avenue in Ogden was destroyed by a fire that spread to and also destroyed five adjacent homes, and burned so hot it damaged nearby businesses. No one was seriously injured. According to Ogden police, they have identified a woman as a person of interest in that fire, but she has not been charged.
• Early Monday morning, a fire ripped through one of three Incline Terrace condo buildings at 400 South and 1000 East in Salt Lake City, destroying about 25% of the roof and causing parts of the building to collapse. There were no serious injuries, and the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
• On June 16, an apartment building under construction on the 1200 block of E. Miller Ave. in Millcreek was also destroyed by fire. There were no serious injuries, and the cause of that fire remains undetermined.
• And on June 13, a Salt Lake office building at 1110 E. Ashton Ave. was destroyed in an arson fire that also gutted an adjacent single-family home and damaged a duplex. Alex Kentish Tuita, 37, of West Valley City, has been charged with aggravated arson after he reportedly poured gas on the side of the building, where a woman he was “obsessed” with worked, and ignited it. There were no injuries.
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