Investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, which firefighters say was unintentional.
A huge apartment building fire early on Memorial Day left one dead and several injured, including two tenants and three firefighters, the Salt Lake City Fire Department said.
The fire broke out at the Silverado’s historic apartments on 300 East between 200 and 300 South early Monday morning. Several people posted on social media that they heard a massive explosion that some thought was thunder, before seeing smoke and flames.
Salt Lake City Fire Battalion Chief Dan Walker told the Salt Lake Tribune that the fire started on the lower-right front unit balcony and then burned through the facade of the building. Around 9:30 a.m., the balustrade of this balcony was covered with a white sheet.
Walker confirmed the fire started there, but said he could not yet speak to a specific cause. The department said the fire was unintentional.
After smoke detectors went off in the building, tenants rushed out of their apartments, Walker said, knocking on neighbors’ doors to make sure everyone knew how to get out. Crews battled the blaze early in the morning and around 9:30 a.m. firefighters reported that they had put it out.
All 13 apartments in the Silverado building were damaged and all tenants were relocated, the fire department said. The Red Cross was on hand to help.
Walker said two tenants were hospitalized with burns; one is in serious condition, he said, and the other is in critical condition. Among the injured firefighters, one suffered a hand laceration, one was treated for overexertion issues and one suffered a sprained ankle. Walker said he does not yet have details of the tenant who died in the fire.
On Monday morning, Utah Disaster Kleenup crews were working at the scene in cold, drizzling rain. Passers-by frequently stopped to notice the damage. “Damn, it’s scary, it feels,” said one woman.
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 in plywood.
Walker said older apartment buildings in Salt Lake City aren’t necessarily at higher risk of burning, but “the level of fire protection may not be as high.”
Investigators are currently working to identify the cause of the fire.