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Fire officials say blaze that destroyed a Sugarhouse office complex may be difficult to investigate

Crews return to the scene of an office complex fire in Sugarhouse to put down hot spots.

Crews return to the scene of an office complex fire in Sugarhouse to put down hot spots. (Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio)



SUGARHOUSE — Fire investigators say it might be tricky getting to the bottom of a blaze that flattened a Sugarhouse office complex. They say the damage was so severe, a lot of the evidence may have been destroyed, along with everything else.

Fire crews were called out to the rubble on 1110 E. Ashton Ave. in Sugarhouse on Monday afternoon to put out hot spots that were continuing to smolder. Investigators have been monitoring the fire ever since they were called to knock it down at roughly 2 a.m. Hours after the blaze was put out, they noticed some hot spots still needed to be knocked down.

Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Tony Stowe says they use specialized foam that can help water better penetrate into burnt wood. Stowe says they call it "wetter water."

"That structure is quite old and it had a lot of heavy timbers in it," Stowe says.

In normal situations, investigators look for starting points or any possible signs of accelerants. However, Stowe says there are times when a fire destroys a building so thoroughly, any evidence that may point to the cause is destroyed with the rest of the building.

He says, "Any sort of evidence is lost in a building that is so completely destroyed like that."

That may or may not be the case in this particular fire. Stowe says the blaze is still under investigation and there may be some evidence that didn't completely burn away.

"There will still be residues that a dog may be able to pick up, but there's added difficulty because this is a two-story structure and we don't know what was inside each one of those," according to Stowe.

Meanwhile, investigators hope surveillance footage of the area can help them track down a cause. However, finding that could be tough, also.

"Is there is security-cam footage from any adjacent building?" Stowe asks. "That structure, obviously, wouldn't have any salvageable hard drives, or anything like that."

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Paul Nelson

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