Westminster College residential students awoke to smokey air and charred debris on campus Wednesday morning after a fire erupted Tuesday night at 2188 Highland Dr., an under-construction building in Sugar House.
The fire burned half a mile from campus, and hundreds of nearby residents were displaced, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, including Westminster art history professor Stephanie Hohlios.
“The first I heard of [the fire] was just the fire alarm,” Hohlios said. “I have an 11-month-old baby […] as well as a little dog and husband, so we just tried to just make sure everyone was warm and get out the door.”
Hohlios said her apartment is located across the street from the damaged building and faces away from the now-burned construction site. Hohlios said these two factors enabled her to return to her apartment at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“I live in one of the apartments that was safe, so I’m very lucky that way,” Hohlios said. “In apartments that face the construction site where the fire was, the heat was so hot that some of the windows blew out.”
Evacuations remain in effect for residents of Sugarmont and Vue, two neighboring apartment complexes, “in the direct vicinity of the demolition zone,” as of 10:28 a.m. Thursday, according to SLC.gov Fire Department updates.
President Beth Dobkin said the college is aware of residents in the area who are associated with Westminster and were impacted by the fire.
“We have a few students who are living in an adjacent building and a staff member, and we’re looking to put them on campus until their building is available to them,” said Dean of Students Glenn Smith, in an email sent to President Dobkin, administrators and faculty.
Director of Residence Life Jess Sweitzer will work to find accommodations for those affected by the fire, according to President Dobkin.
“I trust the college to take any actions that are necessary [to help],” said Stephanie Hohlios, a Westminster art history professor and Sugar House resident temporarily displaced by the fire. “I really hope that any other students or staff or faculty that were also living in the building are as lucky in [being safe] as I was.”
As of 4:32 p.m. Thursday, there are no changes to the situation at the fire site, and more information will be available after the structure is reassessed Friday morning, according to SLC.gov Fire Department updates.