'Suspicious' fire rips through vacant home in Bluffdale

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BLUFFDALE -- Investigators are labeling a fire that ripped through a home in Bluffdale Wednesday morning as suspicious. Firefighters say the residents moved out of the house about a week ago and no one has been living in it since.

Investigators still have not determined what caused this fire. They say Wednesday morning's fire caused so much damage to the house it may take a while before they know how it started.

Firefighters were called to the home near 15000 South Camp Williams Road around 2:30 a.m. when a passerby saw smoke and flames coming from the house. By the time firefighters arrived, flames had already caused the roof to collapse.

Bluffdale City Fire Chief John Roberts said, "When we got here the whole back half of the house was totally engulfed already."

Firefighters estimate the fire had been burning at the home for at least an hour before a passerby spotted the smoke and flames and called it in.

The house is located down a private lane, which may explain why it took so long for someone to see the flames. Firefighters say its location is definitely one reason it was so difficult to fight.

Roberts explained, "Access for apparatus down the lane was pretty nil. We had one pumper truck we got down first and then a ladder truck to get around back of it, but we couldn't do that because of the heavy power lines behind there."

After some maneuvering in the snow and then dumping thousands of gallons of water on top of the 2,200-square foot house, firefighters were finally able to douse the flames. They then went inside to mop up some hot spots, only to be challenged once again by what they found inside.

"Inside the home, from the staircase over the main portion of the home, the main-level floor is gone. The roof is gone, and then the kitchen area, the floor is still intact," Roberts said.

Firefighters said even though gas and power was going to the house, the fact that it's been vacant for about a week makes the fire suspicious. They're hopeful arson dogs and investigators will find the cause.

Roberts said, "Anytime you don't have a homeowner, anybody living there, it could be very suspicious."

The house had belonged to a local power company, which bought the property over a dispute because of the close proximity to high-voltage power lines. But the power company sold it a month ago, and the renters were told to move out last week.

The damage to the house and property is estimated between $350,000 and $400,000. Bluffdale's fire chief said what was left of the structure will need to be demolished.


Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park, Andrew Adams and Sam Penrod.

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