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Fire leaves 2 Murray families homeless

A fire broke out at the Richmond Apartments located at 5490 South 235 East.
A fire broke out at the Richmond Apartments located at 5490 South 235 East.
Erin Askar

Two Murray families were left homeless but alive after a fire raged through their apartment building Friday evening.

"Turns out, it was unattended children playing with a lighter in the bedroom that caused it," Murray Fire Marshal Russ Groves said.

The landlord of the Richmond Apartments at 5478 S. 235 East saw smoke and flames billow from a top floor apartment and dashed inside and up the stairs, Groves said. The man grabbed a fire extinguisher, ducked below the "wall of smoke" and attempted to extinguish the fire.

"When he knew it was too much for him, this guy grabs all four kids … and the family dog (a black Lab) and gets them all out of the house," Groves said. "If it wasn't for him, we would probably be looking at a few casualties tonight."

The mother, who was in another room when the children started a closet on fire, got out on her own, Groves said.

Murray fire crews arrived and knocked out the fire in about 10 minutes, but the apartment and the families' property were still determined to be a "total loss" — about $125,000 in damage, officials said.

The fire also displaced the family that lives below the mother and her children, because their place had substantial water damage.

The Red Cross provided both families with lodging Friday night.

e-mail: jhancock@desnews.com