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SANDY -- Heavy winds fueled a three-alarm fire that destroyed a building and threatened nearby homes in Sandy Thursday.
Fire officials say the building near 9400 South and 600 West, which houses three businesses including Sportsman's Outdoor Products, is a complete loss. They estimate the fire caused well over $1 million in damage.
Residents alerted firefighters to the fire around 4:45 a.m. Christie Drake woke to the flames right outside her window. "It was quite scary," she said. "They were huge, huge flames. I've never seen anything like it."
We could feel the heat just standing on the sidewalk here and we were concerned about what if it did collapse and something fell over on to our house.
When crews arrived they found flames 40 to 50 feet high shooting from the roof, which eventually collapsed. They say 50 to 75 percent of the building was already affected.
A few residents to the west of the business were evacuated when it appeared a wall from the building could collapse and tumble down to the homes below.
"We could feel the heat just standing on the sidewalk here and we were concerned about what if it did collapse and something fell over on to our house," said Melissa Marsh, Drake's roommate.
Four ladder trucks, eight engines and more than 50 firefighters from Sandy, Midvale, West Jordan, Murray and the regional Unified Fire Authority prevented the wall from collapsing. The building, however, was completely destroyed.
"It's too early to guess where this fire started. It may have been in the manufacturing area but we really don't know at this point," said Chris Dawson, battalion chief for the Sandy Fire Department.
While firefighters work to determine how and where the fire started, Sandy public utility workers are trying to control the water used to put it out. Right now that water is flowing into the backyards of nearby homes.
"It was up on our window sill, so they built a trench," said Marsh. "There is a waterfall coming down. They said hopefully we'll avoid water damage in the home."
Firefighters say the building will need to come down once they finish their investigation. No word on how long that could take.