‘I became essentially the central fire alarm’: Man alerts residents of SLC apartment fire by banging on doors

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Nine people were treated from a five-alarm fire Monday. Investigators tell us five people and three firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation and one firefighter from heat exhaustion.
Two of the firefighters were transported to an area hospital and released within hours.

The fire ripped through at least two floors at the Incline Terrence Apartments near 400 S. and 1000 E. Many of the residents say they are lucky because a pair of men took it upon themselves to alert everyone of the fire.

Incline Terrence Apartments fire (Courtesy: Annalise Sauter)

“It was really scary,” says resident Annalise Sauter.

Sauter was preparing applications for a physician assistant program when she heard a loud boom just after 2 a.m.

“I thought it was gunshots, it sounded like gunfire, and I knew something was wrong but I was freaked out,” she says.

Nathan Vaughn says that was the same time his wife and he woke up.

“The lights was yellow, we’re like that’s not a normal color that we see,” he says. “And, I ran over here.”

With two stories on fire, the old property manager says there was no choice in his mind than to begin banging on resident’s doors.

Incline Terrence Apartments fire (Courtesy: Annalise Sauter)

“I became essentially the central fire alarm,” says Vaughn.

Sauter adds, “I heard my neighbor screaming fire building B get out now.”

That’s when Sauter says she grabbed her cat Gertrude and ran out because of the heavy smoke coming in.

“The bad thing about this building is that there is no central fire alarm, each unit had its own fire alarm, so you could hear the fire alarms going off in the units that were affected by the smoke but farther down there was nothing,” says Vaughn.

“So that early action by the neighbors in this structure defiantly helped this become a much more successful operation,” Captain Tony Stowe with the Salt Lake City Fire Department tells us.

Sauter says, “It was horrible, people were stuck on their balconies, you could see smoke and flames behind them.”

“With the pool behind me and just how tight the area is, ladder rescues are quite difficult,” says Capt. Stowe. “So, it was kind of an all hands on deck type of situation.”

Incline Terrence Apartments fire (Courtesy: Annalise Sauter)

Roughly 100 firefighters and paramedics from South Salt Lake up to South Davis came with hand ladders to free the trapped.

Vaughn says everyone was accounted for within 30 minutes, allowing firefighters to put out the five-alarm fire.

He says, “There was no choice in my mind of should I go over there in help?”

Investigators say 25% of the roof is gone, and the open exposure could cause some problems if the wind picks up.

“We have to use thousands of gallons of water to extinguish these things, so the extent of smoke and water damage this will all be taken into consideration,” says Capt. Stowe.

Incline Terrence Apartments fire (Courtesy: Annalise Sauter)

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

With three massive fires in the Salt Lake Valley, firefighters are asking residents to be prepared for pending fire danger.

“Just be prepared, have a water source or fire extinguisher set aside. Make sure you have actually addressed smoke detector batteries so that you have those early indicators,” says Capt. Stowe.

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