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ELDERLY AVENUES COUPLE ESCAPE AFTER THEIR HOME CATCHES ON FIRE

An elderly couple is lucky to be alive after their Avenues home caught fire Tuesday evening.

LeRoy and Helen Morr were getting ready to retire for the night about 9:30 p.m. when they heard a loud "pop" and noticed flames near the wall of their second-story bedroom at 385 E. 7th Ave."It's fortunate that no one was injured. Mr. Morr is confined to a wheelchair," said Salt Lake Fire Capt. Dan Andrus. "Mr. Morr tried to put out the fire when it first started, but the flames were too big."

The couple, who are both in their late 80s, escaped down a flight of stairs and called for help.

Fire crews doused the blaze in 20 minutes but were called to the century-old home about two hours later when a hidden spark smoldering in some attic insulation above the bedroom ignited.

"We did everything we could after the first fire to make sure there were no hot spots by inspecting the rooms thoroughly and even opening a hole in a bedroom wall," said Andrus. "Unfortunately, a tiny spark in an insulated area can hide."

The tenacious flames were finally extinguished about 30 minutes later - although firefighters remained at the home most of the morning Wednesday to ensure all pesky sparks had fizzled.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the blaze but say faulty electrical wiring is likely to blame.

"There's also a possibility the fire may have been started by some combustibles that were placed too close to a portable heater in the bedroom," said Andrus.

The Morrs will be staying with relatives until repairs are completed on the house. Damage was estimated at $40,000.

Smoldering insulation also had to be removed from an abandoned warehouse Tuesday evening.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at 430 W. 300 North about 6:15 p.m. after neighbors noticed smoke pouring out the building.

The fire was doused about an hour later after crews cut holes in the roof to ventilate flames. There were no injuries.

Officials are still trying to determine what may have started the fire, adding that damage will be minimal because of extensive renovation being done on the vacant warehouse. The building formerly housed the Utah Ice and Storage Co.