I had to get them out. There was quite a bit of smoke, flames in the back of the apartment. That's what we do, protect others — make sure everyone is safe. Get them out. —Davis County sheriff's deputy Matt Boucher
NORTH SALT LAKE — The only thing on the mind of Davis County sheriff's deputy Matt Boucher was making sure everyone was OK and getting them out.
Boucher was at the North Salt Lake Police Department about 5:30 a.m. when he saw tall flames coming from an apartment complex near 50 W. Center. He arrived to find flames shooting from the roof of the 12-unit building.
Boucher watched people still running up and down the stairwell, some looking for an additional fire extinguisher for the apartment where the fire started.
"I had to get them out. There was quite a bit of smoke, flames in the back of the apartment," he said. "That's what we do, protect others — make sure everyone is safe. Get them out."
Boucher not only got everyone out of the apartment complex, but the part-time firefighter also directed fire crews at the scene.
"He worked very hard in making sure everyone was evacuated and calling in and directing fire units into the fire," said South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jeff Bassett.
The flames from the two-alarm fire roared through two units. There was smoke and water damage to four others, and the remaining six units had smoke damage, Bassett said. Even if an apartment wasn't affected by the flames, some tenants still lost all their clothes and other belongings due to the smoke.
An estimated 20 people were evacuated, Bassett said.
Damage was estimated at $150,000, South Davis Metro Fire reported.
Six of the 12 units remained uninhabitable Friday, and residents were being housed in vacant units in the same complex. The remaining six units were cleaned and tenants were allowed to return.
Investigators announced that the fire appears to have been sparked accidentally by discarded cigarettes.
The apartment's occupants reportedly had a mattress on a balcony, which they enclosed with blankets, and were smoking on the balcony about midnight. The occupants said they extinguished their cigarettes in an empty bottle on the mattress before going to bed.
A discarded cigarette or ember is believed to have caught the mattress on fire.
Contributing: Shara Park