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80 firefighters battle 2 large structure fires in 2 hours

Workers clean up after an early morning fire at the Driftwood Park Apartments, 3945 S. 700 West, in Murray on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Workers clean up after an early morning fire at the Driftwood Park Apartments, 3945 S. 700 West, in Millcreek on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

MILLCREEK — More than 80 firefighters from across the Salt Lake Valley were kept busy Wednesday morning fighting two large fires within two hours of each other.

A total of 47 residents were displaced between the two fires. But firefighters say fortunately no residents, first responders or pets were injured.

The first fire was reported just before 2 a.m. at the Driftwood Park Apartments, 3945 S. 700 West. Smoke and flames were visible from the third floor of the building as firefighters arrived, said Unified Fire Authority spokesman Matthew McFarland.

All 12 units suffered either fire, water or smoke damage, displacing all 43 tenants, McFarland said. The Red Cross was on scene to help displaced residents. A possible cause for the fire was still being investigated Wednesday.

About 50 firefighters from the Murray, Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake fire departments assisted Unified fire, which used three aerial streams to knock down the flames. It took crews about 90 minutes to bring the flames under control, McFarland said.

Twelve other units at the Driftwood Park Apartments were under construction Wednesday due to another fire that displaced 100 tenants in August. McFarland said there was no evidence Wednesday that the two fires are connected.

As crews were mopping up that fire, a large commercial fire was reported just before 4 a.m. at 3975 S. Highland Drive. The structure included two businesses — A New Day Spa, and an Allstate Insurance office — and two apartments where the business owners lived, McFarland said. All four tenants were able to get out safely due to having smoke alarms that alerted them to the fire.

Smoke and flames were shooting from the roof of the structure by the time crews arrived. About 30 firefighters from the Sandy, West Valley and Murray fire departments assisted Unified fire crews with the second fire. McFarland said while the the department’s east-side resources were stretched Wednesday, there were still other stations standing by to respond to calls.

A cause of the fire was still being investigated Wednesday. A damage estimate was also not immediately available.