Update: More details released after man arrested in connection with 3-alarm fire in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City firefighters battling a 3-alarm blaze early Sunday morning June 13, 2021 at a commercial building at 1110 Ashton Ave. near 2299 S. Highland Drive. Photo: Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 17, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — More details have been released after a man was arrested in connection with a 3-alarm fire early Sunday morning in the area of Ashton Avenue and South Highland Drive in Salt Lake City.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Alex Kentish Tuita, 37, is facing three charges of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony.

“Tuita intentionally and unlawfully set fire to and destroyed a multi-unit office building located at 1104 E. Ashton Ave., Salt Lake City, and a single-family residential home located at 1100 E. Ashton Ave., Salt Lake City,” the statement said.

“A/P (accused person) set fire to the office building by placing gasoline from a glass container on the wall of the office building and then setting fire to the gasoline vapors by means of piloted ignition using a handheld open flame from a disposable barbecue stick lighter.”

The fire completely destroyed the office building and the neighboring single-family residential home, and damaged a residential apartment building at 1124 E. Ashton Ave., the statement said.

Tuita’s alleged actions resulted in an estimated $2 million property loss and endangered the lives of at least six tenants who were present in the neighboring apartment building, officials said.

“A/P offered a detailed, post-Miranda confession,” the statement said. “A/P’s presence at the office building was in violation of a stalking injunction obtained by a female tenant of the office building. A/P admitted to knowing there were lights on in a neighboring apartment building directly to the east of the office building, and A/P acknowledged to interviewers that he was not concerned about the welfare of the occupants of the apartment building.”

SLCFD Battalion Chief Dan Walker told Gephardt Daily burning embers sparked a number of spot fires along I-80 in the area, which crews were quick to put out. The fire department also deployed incident management teams along the interstate to help guide drivers through the heavy smoke.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation, according to Walker. There were no other reports of injuries.

Tuita is being held without bail.


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