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S.L. fire damages 3 homes

Blaze also burns 3 garages and destroys boat

Salt Lake firefighters are investigating the cause of a blaze that started in the garage of an unoccupied house and spread to two neighbors' property early Wednesday.

"We probably won't know the cause of the fire for a week or so," Salt Lake fire spokesman Dennis McKone said. Damage to the three residences is estimated at $125,000.

The fire started about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday near 800 South and 1400 West. The fire is believed to have begun in the garage of a house that had been repossessed by a mortgage company, McKone said.

That house's garage was the most actively burning structure when crews arrived, McKone said.

Flames are believed to have leaped to the detached garage of the house to the north, where they consumed a car inside the garage and one parked outside, McKone said. The house received smoke damage.

Flames also moved west into the back yard of a duplex that borders the two garages. A boat parked in the back yard was destroyed, McKone said. Flames also consumed a wooden deck.

An electrical line between the two garages fell to the ground during the fire, throwing sparks into the air. The line was momentarily live until the power company turned it off. Crews had to work around the live line, however, because it was near the fire, McKone said.

Kent Davis is the owner of the motorized fishing boat that was lost in the fire. He had moved into the duplex, where his daughter and her two sons live, on Saturday.

"Everything I own is in that boat, except my clothes," said Davis. "But it's all material things. I'm glad my family's fine."

His family was expected to stay with relatives until allowed back in the duplex.

Juan Valente, who lives in the house where the garage and two cars were burned, said he was unaware of the fire because he was sleeping. He was awakened by a knock on his door.

The knock was from James McCombe, who happened to be driving through the area. "The flames were shooting 5, maybe 6 feet above the (unoccupied house's) garage," he said.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com