Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Tonya Papanikolas reporting A two-alarm fire burns through four townhomes in West Valley early this morning. That fire destroyed the homes, but everyone was able to get out safely.
Firefighters are still looking into how it started, but they are calling it suspicious.
The fire started at the second unit. The townhome was not occupied. It was a HUD home that neighbors say someone recently placed a bid on.
Firefighters believe the blaze started right in front of the first floor. From the front of these townhomes, you may not know just how much damage the fire caused. But it's unmistakeable from the back.
Mike Ridgeway, Witness: "I've never seen anything like this. It was the most massive residential fire I've ever seen in my life."
Gary Jackson lived in the townhome directly west of where the fire started. He woke up in the middle of the night.
Gary Jackson, Home Burned Down: "I was up on the back room on the third floor and started seeing the flames coming up the side."
Jackson tried to get a few belongings out of his house before firefighters arrived. Crews were met with flames shooting 30 feet in the air.
Gary Jackson: "They busted down the homes, or the doors, and got in, made sure nobody was home."
Mike Ridgeway: "It was a massive wall of fire with several units burning at the same time."
Courtney Sherwin, Neighbor: "It was just ablaze. You could hear framework coming down, falling down."
Gary Jackson: "By that time, the entire back side of all three homes were engulfed."
Mike Ridgeway: "All of them at the same time, just boom, gone."
Courtney Sherwin: "The next one started, the fourth, and within 45 seconds it was engulfed."
In all, seven townhomes were evacuated and four were destroyed.
Captain Kris Romijn, West Valley City Fire: "It's suspicious, so we are investigating it."
Investigators brought in a dog that can detect accelerant and say the animal picked up a positive scent. While they're busy determining what caused the fire, they're also making sure those who lost their homes have a place to stay.
Gary Jackson: "I was thinking, you know what? I'm pretty lucky to be safe. Thankfully nobody was hurt."
Witnesses told investigators they'd heard an argument last night, then a crash before the fire started. Crews say it could have been something like a molotov cocktail. They're still investigating.