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Roof collapses on firefighters

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Three firefighters were injured early Wednesday when a warehouse roof collapsed on them while they were fighting a fire inside the building.

A passer-by spotted smoke coming from the warehouse, 5088 W. Amelia Earhart Drive, just before 5 a.m., Salt Lake fire spokesman Scott Freitag said. When crews arrived they found heavy flames inside the building and immediately called for a second alarm.

"There was a lot of fire inside this warehouse," Freitag said. He said the fire probably was burning for some time before it was discovered.

Four firefighters went inside to battle the flames when the roof suddenly collapsed on them, sending debris onto their heads and backs. "They were knocked down but they were not trapped," Freitag said.

Other firefighters outside the building witnessed the accident through the warehouse's bay doors and quickly ran to the assistance of their colleagues. They brushed debris off the firefighters and helped them to their feet. The injured firefighters were able to get out of the warehouse on their own power, Freitag said.

Three of the four firefighters who were inside were taken to LDS Hospital to be treated for cuts and bruises. One of the firefighters was treated and released Wednesday morning. Two others were expected to be released by late morning or early afternoon, said LDS Hospital spokesman Jess Gomez. The fourth firefighter was not injured.

From that point on, crews battled the flames in a defensive mode, not entering the building.

Another firefighter was injured while lifting heavy debris after the fire was put out. He was taken by ambulance to LDS Hospital with a strained back, Freitag said.

The warehouse is owned by Fastrak Inc., a freight company that transfers good in and out of the warehouse, Freitag said. The interior of the 10,000-square-foot building was gutted, Freitag said. A tractor-trailer and several forklifts were destroyed but there were few goods in the warehouse at that time, he said. Damage is estimated at $400,000.

The walls of the building can still be used but the interior and the roof will have to be replaced, Freitag said.

By late Wednesday morning investigators were just getting a chance to go inside the building and had not yet determined a cause. No one was in the building when the fire started.

E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com