One lucky cat still has eight lives and more than eight people escaped without injuries after the attic of an upscale Sugar House condominium complex caught on fire Sunday night.
`We thought we lost the one cat," said Keith Crawford, a resident of the Graystone Condominium Complex at 1134 E. 2700 South. "But we found it, scared, wet and unhappy, this morning (Monday) in a closet."Crawford, who has lived in the area for about 48 years, said this is the first real disaster at the complex.
More than 40 residents were evacuated in the blaze, which started around 10 p.m. when an air conditioner lit the building's attic on fire. Damage was estimated at $250,000.
"It's just terrible," said Graystone resident Helen Lach as her phone rang Monday morning. "I can't believe the phone still works."
Flames shooting as high as 30 feet scorched two condominiums in the top floor of the two-story building, said Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Dan Andrus.
One was inhabited and the other was vacant. These two second-floor residences are a total loss, while the two residences below sustained severe smoke and water damage, according to fire officials. After cleanup begins, the lower levels should be inhabitable within a few months.
The mostly elderly residents will have to relocate for several months while cleanup and rebuilding are completed.
A breezeway between the four south-side condominiums and the four on the north saved those on the north side because it gave the air a vent, said Crawford, a former LDS bishop for the complex, who was in charge of relocating the residents to a local LDS church building and homes.
The inhabitants on the north side of the breezeway were already back in the apartments Monday morning with no loss of utilities or phone service.
John B. Thomas, who is on the board of directors for Graystone Management Corp., said evacuation was difficult because it was late and most of the residents are older.
`We're very fortunate that there were no injuries," Crawford said. "It is never so bad that it couldn't be worse."
The Graystone condominiums, built in 1960, were among the first condominiums in the United States, Thomas said.
"I planned on living and dying here," Lach said tearfully."I guess I will have to stay out of it for months now."
Fifty-five firefighters battled the blaze, including many of the same crew who fought the June 8 inferno at the Armed Forces recruiting center at 833 E. 400 South.
Crawford said part of the roof in the vacant apartment came down on three firefighters, but they were uninjured because they were wearing hardhats.
The three-alarm fire spread quickly but was under control by 11:30 p.m.