One tenant dead, several injured in major fire at historic Salt Lake City homes

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, which firefighters say was unintentional

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Disaster clean-up teams are working at the scene of an apartment fire at 254 S. 300 East in Salt Lake City Monday, May 30, 2022, where one death, two civilian injuries and one firefighter were injured. The fire that drove away all residents is being investigated.

A huge fire at an apartment building early Memorial Day killed one person and injured several, including two renters and three firefighters, the Salt Lake City Fire Department said.

The fire broke out early Monday morning at the historic Silverado Apartments at 300 East between 200 and 300 South. Several people posted on social media about hearing a massive explosion, which some assumed 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 down the front of the building. At around 9:30 a.m., a white sheet was stretched over the railing of this balcony.

Walker confirmed the fire started there, but said he couldn’t speak to a specific cause just yet. The fire was unintentional, the department said.

After the smoke alarms in the building went off, tenants stormed out of their apartments, Walker said, banging on their neighbors’ doors to make sure everyone knew to come out. Crews fought the fire until early morning, and around 9:30 a.m. the fire department reported that they had put it out.

All 13 apartments in the Silverado building were damaged and all tenants were evicted, the fire department said. The Red Cross was there and provided help.

Walker said two renters were hospitalized with burns; One is in serious condition, he said, and one is in critical condition. Of the injured firefighters, one suffered a lacerated hand, one was treated for overexertion and one twisted an ankle. Walker said he does not yet have details about the tenant who died in the fire.

On Monday morning, teams with Utah Disaster Kleenup worked at the scene in a cold drizzle. Passers-by often stopped to take in the damage. “Damn, that’s scary, you can smell it,” said one woman.

The white and brown building is now blackened with soot, the ceilings of the front balcony porches are badly burned and the windows and doors are covered with plywood.

Walker said Salt Lake City’s older residential buildings aren’t necessarily at a higher risk of fire, but “fire safety levels may not be quite as high.”

Investigators are currently working to determine the cause of the fire.

— This is an evolving story and will be updated. One tenant dead, several injured in major fire at historic Salt Lake City homes

Joel McCord

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