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MIDVALE -- Explosions and popping sounds woke up most of the neighbors of a duplex in Midvale Wednesday morning. The roaring fire left two families without a home, but firefighters say they're lucky to be alive.
"When I looked out the window, it was nothing but bright orange flames," neighbor Marcy Bacon said.
The duplex near 7600 South and 400 East engulfed in flames around 5:00 this morning. The two families inside, and those in neighboring buildings were all in harm's way. "It was just grab everything, grab the kids and run out the door," neighbor Beau Mills said.
Austin Sorensen, who lives next door, said, "It's a good thing we ran out. Your house is all melted and everything. It's crazy."
Fire crews from multiple agencies responded, but upon arrival there was only so much they could do. "This was a defensive fire from the beginning," said Marty Glover, with the Midvale Fire Department.
They surrounded the duplex, dumped water on it and worked to protect neighboring buildings. The flames were too intense to send firefighters inside.
As for the families who live here, they were able to get out the back door and hop a fence into the neighbor's yard. "They are very lucky. At this time, we don't know if their smoke alarms were activated," Glover said.
The Midvale Fire Department says the fire may have started in one of the carports and the reported explosions likely came from the cars parked inside.
"It's enough to freak you out first thing in the morning, bright and early, to be woken up by someone beating on your door, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!'" Mills said.
Families in two neighboring buildings also damaged by the fire were able to get out safely. The community is now offering help to those who lost the most. "I can't imagine losing everything. It's very, very sad," Bacon said.
Between all three structures and the three vehicles inside, firefighters estimate the fire caused $400,000 in damage.
Victim advocates from the Midvale Fire Department and the Red Cross are helping the families with basic needs. Neighbors and a local church say they're going chip in as well. They are asking for donations of clothing, including underwear, jeans, and pajamas, along with any financial donations.
If you would like to donate, you can drop off items at the LDS church house on the corner of 7500 South and 700 East between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday. For questions, call Bishop Adam Lowder at 801-563-9949.