Fire Destroys Salt Lake City, Utah Business

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Reported explosions sparked a massive fire at a downtown Salt Lake City woodworking business Friday, leaving the structure in rubble and forcing the evacuation of a nearby apartment complex.

Television station KUTV reported that at least three explosions were heard before huge flames shot up out of the Jeffrey Cobabe and Associates building on the northwest side of downtown Salt Lake City.

Thick, black smoke wafted across downtown as the fire raged. The blaze, reported shortly after 1 p.m., had briefly threatened the nearby Citifront apartment complex but firefighters were able to protect it. Several fire engines were positioned to wet the apartments in case flames jumped over.

There were workers inside the Cobabe business at the time of the fire, but all were accounted for, said Salt Lake City fire spokesman Dennis McKone.

Jeffrey Cobabe and Associates makes fine furniture and architectural woodwork.

The smell of burning wood was thick in the air. Reporters and other onlookers were kept nearly two blocks away, and traffic around that part of downtown was blocked.

``It's a total, total loss,'' McKone said.

It was the second major fire in the city in eight days. On July 16, a $5.5 million, six-alarm fire destroyed giant rolls of paper outside a South Salt Lake warehouse. The fire at the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. was arson, investigators said.