Fire Investigators Search for Answers

Fire Investigators Search for Answers


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Jed Boal reporting Twenty-four hours after a five-alarm fire ripped through a Salt Lake City strip mall, investigators started to dig for answers. They know the general area where the fire started, now they hope to find out how.

The Salt Lake City Fire Marshal is trying to make sense out of the chaos created by the destructive fire. All seven gutted businesses are littered with piles of scorched debris, broken glass, and burned out memories of years of business.

Salt Lake City Fire Marshal Dan Andrus says, "It is fairly a complex issue to get to the bottom of a fire. It is a needle in a haystack, but we will find it."

Right now, that needle is hidden in mounds of soggy, charred building material that stinks of stale smoke.

The way the fire took off yesterday tells investigators it started somewhere in the corner of the L-shaped mall.

"As the news video indicated, we're looking at an area in the center of the building," says Andrus, "A fairly large area...over a thousand square feet, as a possibility for where the fire started."

The fire spread through air spaces between multiple layers of ceiling added during remodelling. But they're not sure it sparked in the ceiling.

"Scott Freitag of the Salt Lake City Fire Department says, "As of right now, we have no idea what the cause is, or the exact origin within that building."

Looking at all of the debris inside Henrie's dry cleaners, you can get an idea of just how many layers of roofing there were throughout the strip mall. Six or seven layers where the fire was able to find oxygen and plenty of fuel.

Andrus says, "Once we finish the examination of the roof structure...we're going to pull that off...we're going to get underneath it, and see what we can find and try to reconstruct the scene."

Investigators have spoken with business owners, and have an idea of what was going on when the fire was first reported.

The owners want to get back in and salvage what they can.

With losses totalling more than two million dollars, firefighters are thankful they save the apartment building next door.

"Scott Freitag/Salt Lake City Fire Dept.: WE THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO LOSE THAT BUILDING, IT'S SORT OF A MIRACLE THAT WE SAVED IT."

The Fire Marshal expects to know what caused the fire sometime around noon tomorrow. Right now, he says there's no reason to suspect arson.

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