By now, all my local readers have probably heard about the big news from last night, a four-alarm fire that gutted the building that used to house the old Club DV8. I never went to DV8 myself -- dance clubs were never my scene, and those that played so-called "alternative" music even less so -- but the place was an institution here in these parts for a very long time, and I'm sure there are a lot of folks along the Wasatch tonight mourning its loss. (The club has actually been closed and the building vacant for several years, but all the signage was still in place, and I understand there was hope that it might reopen eventually.)
My office is only a couple of blocks from the site of the fire; there was a thick pall of smoke hanging in the air when I stepped off the train this morning, as well as a rank odor like a freshly doused campfire. Just what we needed, I thought, as if the air quality isn't lousy enough this time of year. I expected the smell would go away as the day wore on, but when it was seemed to intensify this afternoon around 2 PM, I got curious. It took only a few minutes to walk to the scene, where it turned out the building was still on fire, or it had flared up again, and a plume of brown gunk was boiling up into the sky. It was actually a pretty fascinating spectacle: the building's roof had fallen in, so in between gusts of smoke I could see blue sky through the windows, and the lower floor was encased in dollops of dirty gray ice built up from the firemen's sprays the night before. A demolition crew stood ready nearby with a backhoe and a wrecking ball as a pumper truck moved into position and trained its water cannon on the stubborn fire, while, across the street, the sidewalk in front of the Salt Palace Convention Center was packed with TV-news cameramen and gawkers like me. I wish I'd thought to take my camera to work with me today. I could've gotten some cool documentary shots.
The smoke was drifting southeast, directly back to the block where I work. I can still smell it in my clothes as I type this. The working theory is that the fire was started by a transient or a squatter in the building who was trying to keep warm, but we'll never know for sure; the building was declared unsafe and the remnants of it knocked down late this afternoon, with no substantial investigation beforehand. If it was a transient, I hope the poor bastard got out.
As I said, I have no sentiment about Club DV8, but I do regret the loss of another of Salt Lake's antique buildings. I don't know when this one was constructed, but judging from the brick facings and the ornamental work up near the eaves, I'd guess sometime in the early 1900s. There are precious few buildings of that vintage left in the downtown area, and seeing the burnt-out husk easily toppled by the wrecking ball on TV tonight brought a lump to my throat. I imagine some developer will probably jump at the chance to fill in the empty lot with a soulless glass box...