- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Firefighters are used to alarms in the middle of the night, but the smoke doesn’t usually come to their front door.

When a group of Salt Lake City firefighters cracked open the door of their upstairs dorm room early Tuesday, they found smoke from a fire that erupted at their own station.

They closed the door and jumped on the room’s fire pole to flee the flames, then quickly returned to the building with a fire truck to battle the blaze.

“They wake up, and within a minute, they’re fighting a fire in their second home,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay.

Two dozen additional firefighters soon joined them. When the fire was extinguished, nine firefighters were taken to a hospital to be evaluated for smoke inhalation, then released several hours later.

Investigators were trying to determine what caused the blaze, which left the second floor of the building with heavy damage. It started in a utility room with a soda machine where linens and rags are stored, and the fire spread to the kitchen and the building’s vent system.

Smoke woke up two captains sleeping on the first floor at about 1:30 a.m., and they called to the other seven firefighters upstairs.

“They love their station and needed to react quickly, and they did a good job of that,” Asay said.

Still, it was an emotional morning, he said. Crews usually have a few minutes to prepare themselves before they start putting out a fire, but that was impossible Tuesday as the blaze spread in a place with special meaning for many of the city’s firefighters.

The station is one of Salt Lake City’s oldest, and most of the department’s 325 firefighters have worked there at some point, Asay said.

“It means a lot to the entire department, especially to the nine firefighters who were there this morning,” he said.

All the firefighters based at the damaged building are working out of other stations until their facility gets repaired.

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