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ALARMS WAKE SLEEPING GUESTS AS FIRE SPREADS THROUGH MOTEL

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It's a firefighter's nightmare: a motel at near full occupancy burning in the middle of the night.

Early Friday, 44 firefighters from Draper, Riverton, Bluffdale, Sandy, South Jordan, West Jordan and Salt Lake County arrived at the Countryside Motel & Apartments, 12875 S. 100 East, to find just that.At 1:30 a.m., fire alarms were sounding in most rooms and patrons were waking up and stumbling outside.

"It was through the roof and really getting with the program," Draper Fire Chief Boyd Johnson said. "(The alarms) gave people a head start."

Six rooms in the 16-unit complex were damaged, with three destroyed. Four vehicles parked outside caught fire and their gas tanks exploded, he said.

A 21-year-old man pulled his wife and baby to safety through the flames, then became disoriented and collapsed inside their room near the edge of the bed, Johnson said. He was rescued by firefighters and treated at the scene for burns on his back. Three firefighters were injured, one with a foot injury and two with strained legs, and a woman was transported after reporting chest pain.

With the exception of the room where the fired started, all units were occupied. Investigators believe a cigarette smoldering in a couch is responsible for the four-alarm blaze and the resulting $100,000 worth of damage, Johnson said. The fire has been classified as an accident.

Crews from 18 fire units worked for an hour to get the fire under control. Eight hours later, two units remained at the scene for cleanup.