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MURRAY — A suspicious fire destroyed an old commercial building on Saturday, impeding TRAX traffic in and out of downtown.
Heavy smoke billowing from the building, located at 4800 S. 300 West, could be seen throughout the valley from about 9:30 a.m. The old fish food factory, built in the early 1900s, was a total loss, said Murray Deputy Fire Marshal Pat Killion.
Killion said the structure met very old fire codes and would have needed to be renovated prior to future occupancy. He said it was only a matter of time before something happened at the site.
Officials brought in a demolition company to knock down what was left of the building, but expected some of the debris from the building to land on the adjacent tracks.
"Is it going to collapse? Is it going to cover the rail line? Is it going to take some of the electrical poles? Is anybody going to get hurt? I mean there's so many variables right now," Killion said Saturday afternoon.
The demolition crew later knocked down about a third of the structure, but stopped because of a reinforced wall that they feared would bring the building down in an unpredictable manner, Killion said. The demolition team planned to return later with additional specialized equipment.
At one point, fire officials tweeted that they might encounter "bodies" inside the building, as it is frequented by transients and is a place where kids and teens have been known to hang out. But no one was found inside.
"It's sad. It's an old building. It's been there a long time," said neighbor DeLynn Barney. "But it is sad to see it go this way."
A bus bridge was set up by the Utah Transit Authority to transport TRAX passengers through the area and was expected to be functioning through Monday as crews finish demolishing the building and cleaning up the debris. The Utah Transit Authority also planned to send an engineer to the site Sunday to help assess the situation.
Killion said the cause of the fire is unknown but is considered suspicious. Fire and police investigators did have some leads they were pursuing late Saturday, he said.
The Murray Fire Department is asking anyone who may have noticed suspicious activity in the area to contact dispatch at 801-840-4000.
Contributing: Mike Anderson, Chris Larson