Fire investigators from three agencies Thursday were busy investigating a trio of garage fires that caused extensive damage.

By Thursday afternoon it was determined at least one of those fires was accidental and not related to the other two.

Two of the three fires, which happened within a half-hour of each other, completely destroyed the garages as well as a total of four vehicles. The third fire caused heavy damage to both the garage and a vehicle inside.

The first fire was reported about 3 a.m. near 300 West and 7700 South. A detached garage was fully engulfed when crews arrived, said Midvale Fire Capt. Jay Thomas.

"It was fairly close to a couple of houses. We were concerned about (the fire) spreading," he said.

Damage was estimated at $40,000. Thomas classified the fire as suspicious.

"It spread very rapidly. For that time of night and the temperature it would appear it would have some sort of help," he said.

Raising the suspicion of investigators was that just a half-hour later another fire at a detached garage was reported near 700 East and 8900 South.

That garage was also fully engulfed with flames when crews arrived and two cars inside were also destroyed.

"The coincidence is there and we're looking into it," Thomas said.

Sandy Deputy Fire Chief Mike Veenendaal called the second garage and its contents a "total loss." Two houses on either side of the garage also suffered minor damage in the fire.

Veenendaal said the situation was "the exact type of fire" as the one in Midvale, but noted he wasn't ready to jump to conclusions.

"You never know, it could be a coincidence. We're getting together with (Midvale investigators) to look into it," he said.

A third garage fire was reported about 7:45 a.m. near 9300 South and 3800 West.

Neighbor Mason Risher said he and another neighbor were the first to arrive at the house after one of them thought they heard an explosion coming from the garage.

Risher said he used a small extinguisher in his car to try and put the fire out, but it grew too quickly. Within minutes he said it was a "total inferno . . . just a big ball of fire."

The adult daughter of the homeowners was storing a lot of her possessions in the garage, including a couch and other items. Risher said that apparently provided plenty of fuel for the fire.

"Once it caught hold it was all over," he said.

Risher and the other man banged on the door, got two adults and one child out of bed and out of the house safely.

This garage was attached to the house, which sustained some damage when fire from the garage started moving into the attic. Damage was estimated at $100,000.

Investigators had ruled out arson as a possible cause by Thursday afternoon, said West Jordan Battalion Chief Mark McElreath. An electrical problem was determined to be the likely culprit, he said.

Crews from all three fires reported ice from the water being put on the garages provided the biggest challenge for firefighters.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com