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WATCH: Arson suspected in downtown fire seen across the Salt Lake Valley

The plume of smoke from the fire near 900 S. 200 W. was visible from much of the Salt Lake Valley. Traffic and Trax trains were rerouted while crews fought the flames. Photo: KSL NewsRadio via Facebook Live

SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters suspect arson is the cause of a three-alarm fire that affected traffic and Trax trains near downtown Salt Lake City and could be seen for miles. 

They said it was the third fire they responded to around 900 South and 200 West on Wednesday morning. 

Roads in the area were closed briefly Wednesday and Trax trains rerouted while crews battled the flames, which engulfed a vacant dry cleaning business. It also forced the closure of the northbound I-15 ramp to 600 South. 

Witnesses saw the dark smoke plume from across the Salt Lake Valley.

 

Salt Lake City Fire Department Battalion Chief Ryan Mellor said no one called 911 about the fire. It was first spotted by firefighters, who were on their way to a small grass fire in the area and saw the flames. 

“Crews showed up; it was heavily involved. At that point, it went to a second alarm almost immediately,” Mellor said. 

It eventually became a three-alarm fire. 

He believes one reason the dry cleaner fire grew so big so fast was that the business was vacant. 

“Since it was a vacant building, it wasn’t maintained,” Mellor said. “And so we pulled everybody off the roof, because the roof started to go.” 

Earlier in the day, firefighters had put out a smaller fire in the neighborhood that did not cause much damage.

Investigators believe one person could be behind all three of the downtown fires, with the arson at the dry cleaning business representing the largest fire of the three. 

They did not release any information about who that person of interest is.