Investigators say a two-alarm fire at a topless bar may have been intentionally set to cover up a burglary.
The fire was reported just after midnight Friday by a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy who was driving past Pinky's, 4141 S. State, and noticed smoke coming out of the business, said Unified Fire Authority spokesman Jay Torgersen. The bar was closed at the time.
"The first arriving unit found heavy smoke coming from the building and called for a second alarm," he said.
Once inside, crews found a large amount of smoke but a relatively small fire burning inside a storage room. The contents of the room, boxes and other paper products were on fire. The fire was quickly put out. Damage to the building and its contents was estimated at about $50,000.
As investigators began looking into the incident, they discovered the fire was likely the result of arson, Torgersen said.
Furthermore, he said it appeared as though the business had been burglarized just prior to the fire.
"There was significant vandalism in addition to the fire," he said.
Change was taken from video game machines that were broken into, and money was taken from an unlocked safe, Torgersen said. Casey Kalm, the owner of the business, told investigators he estimated $5,000 cash was stolen. The money was allegedly taken from a safe and various video vending machines, Torgersen said.
The burglars apparently entered through a back door.
"There's definite evidence that a door had been forced open from the outside from the rear of the building," he said.
Kalm also reportedly told investigators that the burglar alarms had been malfunctioning all week and were turned off at the time the fire started. The club was closed for Thanksgiving, and no one was inside.
Torgersen said it's possible the entire building could have been lost if the deputy had not spotted the smoke and called the fire department.
Contributing: Wendy Leonard