The fire that occurred Sunday morning at the historic Broadway Hotel in Tooele City’s Newtown area is “suspicious,” according to the Tooele City fire chief.
While the cause of the fire is under investigation, Tooele City Fire Chief Chris Shubert used the term ”suspicious” to describe the fire.
At 7:34 a.m. on Sunday, Tooele County dispatch received a call stating that the boarded up and vacant Broadway Hotel located at 145 N. Broadway Ave. in Tooele City was on fire.
Crews quickly responded to the scene and found the building engulfed in flames and smoke.
A total of 35 firefighters from Tooele City, four from Tooele Army Depot, six firefighters from Grantsville, and three firefighters from North Tooele Fire Department responded to the scene to put out the fire, along with the county fire warden, according to Chris Shubert, Tooele City fire chief.
State fire marshals were called and they called the Department of Public safety for their drone capabilities, according to Shubert.
By 1:30 p.m. the fire was extinguished but firefighters stayed on scene until 5:30 p.m. to mop up hot spots.
No injuries were reported.
The fire appears to have begun in the upstairs of the building, according to Shubert.
The fire caused significant damage to the building, but the extent of damage is undetermined at this time, Shubert said.
The Broadway Hotel, originally built in 1909, had been vacant for an undetermined amount of time.
In 2006, a Salt Lake City-based developer announced plans to restore the building as affordable income housing units.
Tooele City and its redevelopment agency welcomed the developer and his plans, but financing for the project was ultimately delayed by the recession.
The hotel was closed to human habitation in November 2011 by order of the Tooele County Health Department.
The Health Department found human waste, accumulated garbage,and no running water, making it unfit for habitation, according to health department officials at the time.
Closure orders were posted on the building and people found occupying the building became subject to a health code offense as well as possible trespassing charges.
In July 2019, the Tooele City Redevelopment Agency approved a tax incentive financing agreement to pave the way to remodel the Broadway Hotel as part of the developer, Broadway Heritage Apartments 2017, plans to build affordable housing apartments on Broadway Avenue.
Soren Simonsen, a Salt Lake City-based architect and partner in Broadway Heritage Apartments 2017, said that they had just received financing for architecture work and planning for the remodel in the week or so before the fire broke out.
The plans were to restore and preserve the facade of the building, while replacing most of the interior with new construction, based on future studies of the condition of the building’s interior.
Now, Simonsen said, the first thing will probably be to demolish the building.
“It’s sad,” he said. “Most of our partners are very interested in historic preservation. The hotel has some unusual details on the exterior. Hopefully we can honor the building with the design of the new building in some way.”
Simonsen said he was aware that the building was used by some of Tooele County’s homeless. According to Simonsen, the developers/owners hired somebody to keep the building boarded up, but the boarding was removed almost as fast as it was put up, he said.