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Fire crews put out large blaze at Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Utah

Firefighters early Sunday morning fought a large fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cottonwood Heights. Unified Fire Authority
Firefighters early Sunday morning fought a large fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cottonwood Heights. Unified Fire Authority
An entrance is covered after a fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3625 Doverhill Drive in Cottonwood Heights on Sunday, July 14, 2019. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Crews early Sunday morning fought a large fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cottonwood Heights.

Firefighters were called out at 2:45 a.m. to 3625 Doverhill Drive, according to a statement from Unified fire. When they arrived, the building appeared fully engulfed.

Firefighters early Sunday morning fought a large fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cottonwood Heights.

Unified Fire Authority

Firefighters early Sunday morning fought a large fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cottonwood Heights.

Resident Conner Dearden saw the fire as he returned home from a trip.

"Right as we turned on the road, we saw the whole street was just smoke," he recalled.

"It's really hard. It touches my heart."

Crews from Unified and Murray fought to extinguish the fire. The blaze was put out within about 40 minutes, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

The cause was under investigation as of Sunday afternoon.

"Don't have anything yet, as far as it goes. But they're asking if anybody sees something, or knows anything, saw something out of place, please say something. Call Unified (fire), or Unified police, Cottonwood police, anything to kind of help out with that investigation," said Keith Garner, Unified fire spokesman.

An entrance is covered after a fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3625 Doverhill Drive in Cottonwood Heights on Sunday, July 14, 2019.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

An entrance is covered after a fire at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3625 Doverhill Drive in Cottonwood Heights on Sunday, July 14, 2019.

The flames didn't make it into the chapel, but the whole building suffered smoke damage, fire officials said.

There was no estimate on the cost of damage as of Sunday afternoon.

Sunday services for those who worship at that building were moved to another meetinghouse about a mile away.

Dan Steele had just started getting ready for church when he heard the news. For him, the news was especially difficult because of personal ties to the building.

"My parents helped build this church. I've served an LDS mission. This is where I gave my mission farewell and homecoming talk. … This is where we grew up. This has been home for 40 years for me," Steele explained.

The future of the building remained unsure Sunday.

"Smoke can cause almost as much damage as anything else, so a lot of times with smoke damage it's going to have to be completely redone as well," Garner said.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, church officials said it could be some time before plans for the building are released.

"Our church buildings are places of worship and community gathering where all are welcome. We are saddened by the damage that has occurred at this location," church spokeswoman Irene Caso said.

"At this point authorities have just begun their initial investigation, and it may be some time before we can provide additional details on the cause or future plans for this site."