Murray fire official: Abandoned building is ‘very dangerous’ place to seek shelter

Multiple fire departments responded to a structure fire in an abandoned building at 4255 S. Commerce Drive (300 West) in Murray on Friday night, Dec. 20, 2019. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

MURRAY, Utah, Dec. 21, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Multiple fire departments responded to a structure fire Friday night in an abandoned building at 4255 S. Commerce Drive (300 West).

Murray Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Mittelman said fire crews were called at about 11 p.m. to a report of smoke in the area and arrived to find a “large column of smoke coming from the top of the structure.”

Upon entry, he said, crews found the fire on the second floor on the north side of the building.

“We get quite a few folks who enter (the building) who are homeless,” Mittelman said, adding that these people, in an effort to keep warm, have stockpiled what the fire department calls a “fuel load,” which is mostly trash.

“We’ve been here multiple times on different fires in the past four to five years at least,” he said. “The structure in the back is the old soccer stadium. It burned really bad in 2017. This structure here is made out of heavy cement, tinder block, that typically doesn’t burn, but it’s all the contents that keep getting hauled into it (that keep catching fire).”

He pointed out that garbage and piles of wood from trees had been brought into the building by people seeking shelter from the cold.

“Our biggest takeaway from this is that abandoned structures are very dangerous,” Mittelman said.

“If we can get the word out to our homeless population, this is not a safe place to be. Not a good place to be.”

“This structure is very dangerous, and there are great drops inside — 20 to 30 feet,” he said. “We’d really like to see this structure demolished.”

Mittelman also wanted to offer some fire-safety advice for everyone: “Get the word out to families to check their smoke alarms at home.”

A total of three engines, a tower, and at least two battalion chiefs responded from West Jordan, South Salt Lake and Murray fire departments. Mittelman said eight firefighters went into the abandoned building.


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