SUGARHOUSE CITY, Utah (ABC4)– An investigation into the Sugarhouse fire was closed and ruled “undetermined.” However, in the fire report obtained by ABC4, there were multiple possible causes listed, including arson, construction heaters, and electrical problems.
In October of last year, an apartment building under construction caught on fire. The fire allegedly started on the top floor of the complex, located in Sugarhouse, on the night of Oct. 25, around 11:30 p.m. According to the police report, it was hard to access the fire due to narrow alleyways and other buildings close by.
There were more than 70 firefighters working on the scene. The fire continued into the morning, several floors collapsed, and explosions allegedly occurred within the building. The fire also shattered some windows of nearby buildings.Fire crews and SLCPD evacuated nearby buildings, including the complexes Sugarmont and the Vue.
In the report received by ABC4, a few people said they thought it could be arson. One of those was the fire investigator, Daren Mortensen.
Mortensen said he believed the property, and evidence found at the scene of the fire were evidence of
- Reckless burning
- Arson and/or aggravated arson
“Fires which occur at construction sites are suspicious in nature, and among other things, may be used to make a fraudulent insurance claim.” Mortensen said, “[and] the fire occurred in an area where several incendiary fires have occurred in recent months.” According to Mortensen, firesetters often target areas where fires have been set previously.
Another possible cause for the fire, discussed in the report, was some heaters located on the fourth and sixth floors. As well as some debris and insulation allegedly near the heaters.
The heaters were installed Oct. 24 and began operating on Oct. 25, to provide heat to the workers. One worker said the heaters were a source of discomfort because they made the workspace uncomfortably hot.
Another employee said he has been yelled at before to “not adjust heaters to turn the temperature down.” He also said he saw some loose insulation near the heater and paint bottles within 10 ft of the heater. In the report, the heaters were referenced 117 times, and many of those were in reference to them being too hot.
Another possible cause listed in the report was the spider boxes in the North tower. The investigator stated in his report that the spider boxes supplied power for an electrical string that provided light to the structure. He said there could have been an electrical problem that created enough heat to ignite nearby fuels, and with airflow, achieve combustion. He said at that point, it could have ignited construction debris and spread.
“With not being able to fully rule out the heaters or the electrical system; the actual cause of the fire cannot be determined,” the report stated. “Therefore, the classification of the fire is undetermined.”