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West Jordan building set on fire with man inside, police say

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WEST JORDAN — West Jordan police were questioning a man Tuesday who investigators believe set an abandoned restaurant on fire while another man was still inside hiding from him.

The odd incident happened about 2:30 a.m.. Tuesday at 7750 S. 3200 West. A man was sleeping in his car behind the structure when he was woken by another man pounding on his vehicle, said West Jordan Police Lt. Rich Bell.

The two men had some sort of long-standing disagreement, Bell said, and the man who was sleeping in the car got out and tried to talk to the other man.

But his attempt to smooth things over didn’t go well, and the man who was in the car began fearing for his safety and ran away, Bell said. He found an open door to the vacant restaurant, went inside and barricaded the entrance, according to police.

The other man attempted to enter through several other doors and windows but could not, Bell said. At that point, the man yelled to the victim that he was going to burn him.

A short time later, smoke started pouring into the building from the roof, Bell said. The man inside the restaurant was able to get out through another door and run off. The West Jordan Fire Department was called to the scene a short time later when the building was fully engulfed.

While crews were putting out the fire, the man from the car returned and told investigators what had happened, Bell said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, police were looking to question Jesus D. Hernandez, 54, whom they considered a person of interest. They announced later that evening that Hernandez, who they called an arson suspect, had been located and was being questioned about the fire, and would likely be booked into jail sometime overnight.

Details on how the fire started and what the two men were fighting over were not immediately available Tuesday.