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Millcreek construction fire significantly delays upgrades, investigators seek public’s help

MILLCREEK, Utah — City officials in Millcreek said Wednesday’s construction fire did more than just burn down an apartment complex under construction.  It significantly derailed their plans for major upgrades to their city.  Along with that discouraging news, fire investigators said they need the public’s help to find out what caused it.

The plans for Millcreek include upgrading the land near the old Villa Theater and make that area Millcreek’s “downtown.”

“This intersection of these three major roads, Highland Drive, 1300 East and 3300 South, is the logical place that our residents identified as where our downtown should be,” he says.

Silvestrini said he noticed many developers wanted to build what he calls “unremarkable” projects in that part of town, describing some of them as small apartment buildings “clad in stucco.” But the city wanted to go in a different direction, so city officials set aside millions of dollars to create a new city plaza. It’s supposed to feature a new city hall, more parks, a splash pad, an ice ribbon, and more retail stores. 

“The project that burned down, which is called Cottonwood-Richmond, was the first project of the execution of this vision if you will,” Silvestrini said.

It was the first project being built according to our plan. It was the beginning of something fresh and new here.  So, we are sad to lose it.”

The project was insured, and Silvestrini said the developers will be able to restart their construction.  But no one knows how long the project will be delayed.

“The owners told me this project was only 25 percent completed when it burned,” he said.

Asking for public’s help after construction fire 

Meanwhile, investigators want the public to send them any pictures or videos they may have connected to this construction fire.  Unified Fire Authority’s Ryan Love says it doesn’t matter if the video was taken before, during or after the fire, anything will help.

(A picture from Chopper Five, showing the interior of the construction site during the fire.)

“The reason is that we’re looking at multi-million dollar fire, up into the tens of millions of dollars.  The construction equipment alone … the cranes cost a million dollars, each,” Love said.

Investigators don’t have any reason to suspect arson.  However, the area around the blaze burned so hot and so intensely, it’s still not safe for crews to investigate from inside the scene.  And Love said they’re still concerned about nearby cranes falling over.

Flames from the fire were shooting 100 feet into the air, making them visible from the point of the mountain. Love called it “the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen.”

“I say that because this was the construction site of a large apartment complex that had no walls.  I believe it had exterior walls only, so all the interior wood beams were exposed,” according to Love.

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