A car blasted into a State Street business during rush hour and burst into flames in the middle of the store. One witness said, "It was amazing. I couldn't believe that the car was in the building, and there were flames coming up over the top of it. It was just amazing."
It was a spectacular crash and fire. Police say it could have hurt, even killed a lot of people. Though the crash did some serious damage, no one was seriously hurt.
There's a hole in the Family Dollar store. The car ended up right where customers normally line up for the register.
Tyler Cushing saw the accident and told KSL, "We saw the flames shooting over the top of the car. We ran up to see if everyone was OK."
Normally at 5:15, the store is crowded, people are on the sidewalks and State Street is jammed. Not today. Steven Foote, the South Salt Lake Fire Chief, said, "We have a car at a high rate of speed coming down State Street, careens off the road, hits a car, careens into a building, then catches on fire inside the building."
The car headed north on State Street ran into the rear side of another car when it pulled out from a side street. The first car kept going, lost control and may have gone airborne when in blasted through the door and window of the Family Dollar store and burst into flames.
Two clerks and a couple of customers were inside the store. "I heard a caboom. I came running out," Tyler Cushing said. Cushing and a coworker ran out of the business next door to see who needed help. They attacked the fire with extinguishers with little luck.
"It was filled with flames. There was thick smoke. We didn't know if there was anyone else in the building at the time," Cushing said.
The line of travel is still visible from the rubber left on the road. It was about 40 yards between where the two cars collided and where the one car went into the building.
Salt Lake police officer Gary Keller said, "I wasn't in the store, but imagine a car crashing through the window, through the bricks, stopping in the store, then igniting. Probably was a lot of panic at that time."
A young woman who travels the neighborhood on a tricycle was in front of the store, inches from the car when it blew by. She went to the hospital with cuts.
A child in the rear of another car went to the hospital as a precaution.
"That no one was hit, that we didn't suffer major loss of life here, to me, is quite amazing," Foote said.
The crash shut down northbound traffic on State Street for two hours. A major accident investigation team gathered a lot of evidence, and they'll decide if anyone will be cited.