Firefighters concerned about peak structural fires on the Wasatch front

MURRAY, Utah – Murray City Fire investigators say a man is in custody in connection with an apartment fire at Stillwater Apartments that has left around 50 people searching for housing.

At this time, this man is only considered a person of interest, and no charges have been filed.

The fire broke out around 2:30 am Thursday morning as residents heard a “clicking noise” coming from the third floor of the complex.

Read – 50 people displaced by Murray’s apartment fire

Murray City fire crews worked throughout Thursday clearing debris and rubble from the top floor of the building – where they believe the blaze started – in a process known as digging fire.

Around 3:00 p.m. Thursday, the crews had cleared the third floor sufficiently, allowing investigators to get inside.

Murray City Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Mittelman told FOX 13 investigators were looking for burn patterns that would give them a better idea of ​​how and where the blaze started. He added that it was still too early to determine the cost of the damage, but expects it to be “well over $ 500,000”.

The Stillwater Apartments fire is another part of a spate of structural fires that have hit the Wasatch frontage in recent weeks, causing millions of dollars in damage in total.

“It looks like we just have a lot of fires, especially these structure fires,” said Patrick Costin, public information officer at the Unified Fire Authority. “It seems there is a lot more than typical.”

Read – Ogden fire damage estimated at $ 3.1 million after homes and businesses were destroyed

Costin said unlike wildfires, structure fires typically don’t have an active season or time of year when firefighters would expect to see more activity.

“We’re going to go weeks and weeks with nothing, then you might see two, three, four appear in a week and then go a few months with nothing,” he said.

All of the fires in the past two weeks appear to be isolated incidents, but Costin says a lot of the fires they see in condos and apartments start on the balcony.

“So we see a lot of it. Balcony fires caused by cooking,” Costin added. “So we have barbecues, and the barbecue gets too hot. We all know that grease buildup on barbecues can be a problem. We want to tell people to be extra careful if you are cooking on the balcony.”

Read – Massive fire at a construction site observed in the Salt Lake valley

UFA has said residents of apartments and condos should never leave a grill unattended. Costin recommends keeping a fire extinguisher near where you cook.

“We even tell people that they have multiple fire extinguishers,” he said. “Have one in the kitchen for sure. Then have a fire extinguisher on that balcony on those outdoor cooking spaces too.”

As the July 4 holiday approached, Costin said UFA was gearing up for a “really busy” weekend. They want to remind people to be extra careful when grilling and ask the public to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Stillwater crews said they plan to continue working on the structure until Thursday evening as they attempt to determine the cause of the blaze.

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