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Natural Gas Leak Causes Apartment Fire

Natural Gas Leak Causes Apartment Fire


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Sarah Dallof ReportingPhotos courtesy of Mark Zinke with Red Leaf Photography, www.redleafphotoonline.com.

A devastating fire at an apartment complex in Salt Lake County destroyed six apartments and damaged about 12 more.

The residents of those apartments had to watch them burn. Firefighters had to wait for the gas to be shut off before they could safely fight the fire.

The apartment complex is located at 4000 S. 400 East. Once firefighters were on scene there was little they could do as the natural gas leak caused additional explosions in the building.

Deputies hurried people to safety as the flames shot higher and higher into the air.

Charmaine Harmon, whose apartment was destroyed, said, "I was sitting on my couch, and there was a huge explosion at my door."

Harmon says she smelled gas for days and called the complex management. They didn't fix it, so Tuesday a Questar representative came to investigate.

"He was doing his tests and said he was going to check his machinery. And about a half hour later there was a huge explosion," Harmon said.

Harmon saw the flames but was too scared to move. The Questar employee broke down her door, shielded her from the flames and dragged her out.

Harmon says, "I'm so grateful. I was so scared, I couldn't even move. I think he saved me."

Questar says its employee realized the danger of the situation before the fire started and called for backup. Once he saw flames, he tried to put them out.

One witness said, "I saw a gas guy in a blue suit working on the gas main with a fire extinguisher. He put it out it flared back up."

Questar is investigating what caused the fire that's now made Charmaine and her neighbors homeless.

Darren Shepherd, with Questar Gas, said, "Natural gas, if it has the right air-gas mixture and ignition source, it will just go."

As for an ignition source, Questar says it could have been as simple as someone using a cell phone or static electricity.

No firefighters or residents were injured.

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