Fire at abandoned building forces evacuation of 55 apartments nearby in Salt Lake City

Jun 3, 2023, 10:49 AM | Updated: Jun 22, 2023, 4:54 pm

The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to an abandoned building that was on fire at 220 S. 20...

The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to an abandoned building that was on fire at 220 S. 200 East late Friday night. The fire forced the evacuation of 55 units from the Randi Apartments. (Salt Lake City Police Department)

(Salt Lake City Police Department)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to an abandoned building that was on fire at 220 S. 200 East late Friday night.

The Randi Apartments — which are located just north of the fire — evacuated 55 out of 60 units, said Salt Lake City Fire Department Capt. Shaun Mumedy.

“We do have some damage to the Randi Apartments on the south-facing side of those apartments,” Mumedy said. “There’s no fire inside those apartments, it appears to be mostly exterior damage to those apartments.”

He added that the south-facing side of the apartment building and the vacant structure are “pretty close” in proximity to each other.

Fire crews began defensive operations on the structure that went through the night and continued Saturday morning.

“(The) first arriving fire engine witnessed what we call a smoke explosion on the street level, first floor,” Mumedy said. “What happened was all those windows on the first level, street level, blew out due to the intense smoke and heat buildup.”

He said dispatch notified the department upon arriving at the scene that the building was abandoned and the crews “immediately went defensive.”

This means they didn’t send any firefighters inside the building, due to the fact that it’s vacant.

“Crews are still defensive. Expect smoke to continue in the area,” said a tweet from the fire department, adding that no injuries have been reported at this time.

The Salt Lake City Police Department in a Tweet Saturday morning said they are blocking traffic on 200 South from Edison Street to 300 East as fire crews continue to work the structure fire at a vacant building.

“Be aware that smoke is visible from most parts of the city and can be smelled heavily in downtown,” police said in a tweet.

Mumedy said the department has “all six” fire engines and fire trucks on the scene, getting water on the fire and trying to stop the smoke, something he said will be a long process.

“We expect this to go on for at least another 12 hours if not another day. This is going to continue to put off a lot of smoke,” Mumedy said. “It’s very reminiscent of what we experienced with the Sugar House apartment fires last fall.”

Because of the risk of the structure collapsing, Mumedy said that they won’t send any firefighters into the building, which could impact how long it takes to stop the smoke.

“We’re working very rapidly to try to get a demolition permit in place so that we can get this torn down for safety reasons and really be able to fully extinguish that,” Mumedy said.

It is unclear how the fire started at this point.

This story will be updated.

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Fire at abandoned building forces evacuation of 55 apartments nearby in Salt Lake City