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Salt Lake fire started in shoe shop

No code violations found; S.L. helping 7 firms to relocate

Electrical equipment inside Best Shoe Repair started the five-alarm fire that destroyed that business and six others, Salt Lake City fire officials said Wednesday.

The fire has been classified as accidental and the building turned over to its owners, city Fire Marshal Dan Andrus said.

Andrus, who spoke at a press conference, would not specify the type of equipment that sparked the fire. But he did say the equipment was on the floor and the fire spread up a wall and into the the attic, where layers of false ceiling made the blaze difficult to fight.

No fire code violations were found in the building, Andrus added.

Monday's fire destroyed seven businesses in the strip mall at the corner of 500 East and South Temple, causing about $2 million in damage.

The intense heat from the fire also damaged an apartment building south of the strip mall.

"That was so close," city fire spokesman Scott Freitag said, adding that the heat was so great firefighters said "it felt like the upper floors were on fire."

Two people who suffered minor injuries were treated and released at the scene.

Salt Lake City is now working to help the seven businesses relocate, Mayor Rocky Anderson said. Space at no or below cost has been offered to some, as well as possible low-interest rates and grant awards, he said.

"We want to do everything we can to help these business owners," Anderson said.

Fire officials re-emphasized Wednesday that the strip mall was not destroyed because of a lack of water, despite the fact that two hydrants in the area were turned off and others initially lacked sufficient water pressure.

Freitag said crews had all the water they needed while fighting the fire in an offensive, firefighting mode. He also noted that the residents who ran into Henrie's Dry Cleaning to save hundreds of items of clothing did so under the supervision from the fire department and did not put their lives at risk.


E-mail: jpreavy@desnews.com