A huge apartment building fire early on Memorial Day left one person dead and several injured, including two tenants and three firefighters, the Salt Lake City Fire Department said.
The fire started at the historic Silverado apartments on 300 East between 200 and 300 South in the early-morning hours on Monday. Several people posted on social media about hearing a massive explosion that some thought was thunder, before seeing smoke and flames.
Salt Lake City Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Walker told The Salt Lake Tribune the fire started on the lower right front unit’s balcony and then burned up the front of the building. Around 9:30 a.m., that balcony’s railing had a white sheet hung across it.
Walker confirmed that the fire started there, but said he couldn’t speak to a specific cause yet. The department said the fire was unintentional.
After smoke alarms went off in the building, tenants rushed out of their apartments, Walker said, banging on their neighbors’ doors to make sure everyone knew to get out. Crews fought the fire through the early morning, and around 9:30 a.m., the fire department reported they’d put it out.
All 13 apartments in the Silverado building were damaged, and all of the tenants have been displaced, the fire department said. The Red Cross was on the scene providing assistance.
Walker said two tenants were hospitalized with burns; one is in serious condition, he said, and one is in critical condition. Out of the firefighters who were injured, one suffered a laceration to his hand, one was treated for overexertion issues and one suffered a rolled ankle. Walker said he didn’t have any details yet about the tenant who died in the fire.
On Monday morning, crews with Utah Disaster Kleenup were working the scene in cold, drizzly rain. People walking by frequently stopped to remark on the damage. “Damn, that’s scary, you can smell it,” one woman said.
Built in 1920, according to the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, the white and brown Silverado building is now blackened with soot, with the tops of the front balcony porches badly burned and the windows and doors covered with plywood.
Walker said Salt Lake City’s older apartment buildings aren’t necessarily at a higher risk of burning, but “the fire protection level may not be quite as high.”
Investigators are currently working to identify the cause of the fire.