Investigators: Electrical issue likely caused Murray apartment fire

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MURRAY -- Investigators say an electrical problem with a stove may have caused a fire at a Murray apartment complex that forced at least four families from their homes.

The fire broke out at the Murray Place Apartments at 151 E. 5460 South around 7:30 p.m. Friday. The flames destroyed four of the building's 16 or more units and damaged at least four more.

Saturday, fire crews expressed concern over a gas problem and a possible snow storm. Though no one was hurt, crews won't let anyone in the building until they can restore power and gas.

It's looking like an electrical issue of some kind in the wall behind one of the stoves, probably in one of the lower units.

–Battalion Chief Kevin Potter.

Residents grabbed whatever wasn't damaged by the fire. Scott Landeros' unit has significant smoke damage.

"I'm kind of taken back by everything," he said.

But he is one of the lucky ones. Four units are completely unlivable.

"When you walk into the apartments and see, I mean, it's the color of your jacket. That's how black it is," Landeros said.

Murray firefighters continued their investigation into what happened.

"It's looking like an electrical issue of some kind in the wall behind one of the stoves, probably in one of the lower units," said Murray Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Potter.

Once a fire gets into walls, it takes a while to stop it.

"It was kind of a tough fire to get out," Potter said.

Saturday, crews focused on turning gas and power back on so other residents could go back home.

"We really are hoping to get a lot of these folks back in by later this afternoon, if we can," Potter said.

Another concern for firefighters is a possible snow storm moving in. Heavy snow could cause the roof to cave, so crews are working to support it as much as possible.

"Hopefully it doesn't snow in the next couple of hours," Landeros said.

Meanwhile, residents don't know when they'll be allowed back into their homes.

"We don't know. It's still up in the air," said Landeros. "They're still trying to decide what's going to go on."

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at nearby Hillcrest Junior High School at 126 E. 5300 South for residents who need a place to stay overnight. The units are about 40 years old and have not likely been inspected for safety since.



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