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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City firefighter escaped injury early Thursday after falling through the floor of a business.
Late Wednesday night, fire crews were called to Will's Automotive, 945 S. 300 West, on a report of smoke coming from the doors and windows, said Salt Lake Fire Capt. Adam Archuleta. Within minutes of arriving, firefighters called for additional crews because of the volume of smoke, he said.
The fire was brought under control within 15 minutes, Archuleta said. Early Thursday, firefighters went inside the building to look for hot spots, which includes tearing into the ceilings and walls.
While Justin Batty was doing overhaul on the second floor of the building above an office area, the floor collapsed, he said Thursday afternoon.
"As we crossed from one room into the other, I noticed the floor was really soft," Batty said. "I felt the floor start to give under me."
Batty was able to catch himself briefly with his arms and elbows as he fell through the floor, he said.
"In that split second, I felt the floor give again, and then went all the way down to the first level," he recalled.
Batty was not injured and was back on duty Thursday going about "business as usual," he said.
His fellow firefighters helped him to get up and out of the building quickly, he said.
"When it actually happened, I wasn't ready for it. But at no point did I feel like I was helpless or hopeless. I knew my guys were right behind me and that they would do whatever it took to get out," he said.
Batty said the department had gone through firefighter rescue training the week before.
"It seems like these things always happen immediately after you have that training," he laughed.
"We train for these events, and you hope you never have to experience one, you hope you're never involved in one. But preparedness is always key," he said. "We go into these structures knowing that they're a hazardous environment and that we're putting ourselves at risk."
Investigators determined the fire was set "intentionally" but were not going as far as declaring it arson on Thursday, Archuleta said. Authorities were seeking a person of interest, he said.
Damage to the business was estimated initially at $100,000.