Salt Lake City – A massive fire burst on Friday at an automobile scrap yard located in west Salt Lake City. The flare destroyed two buildings nearby and propagated causing a grass fire. A significant amount of black smoke spread over surrounding areas, which led to the closure of Interstate 80. It took firefighters and hazmat crews about four hours to completely contain the fire.
The fire originated at Rio’s Auto Recycling Junkyard at 4385 West 700 South around midday Friday, said Salt Lake fire spokesman Captain Mark Bednarik to KSL. The Utah Department of Transportation closed both directions of Interstate 80 from 5600 West to the interchange with Interstate-215 for two and a half hours because of concerns over the smoke. Besides blocking up visibility, it was considered an “unknown hazmat substance,” since it came from burning barrels, and officials warned the public to stay away, authorities told Good 4 Utah.
Apparently, the fire was originated after employees of the junkyard finished doing some cutting work that produced minor sparks. “They thought everything was out, they went to grab their lunch; they came back (and) that’s when they noticed … the fire was growing,” Bednarik told KSL.
The fire destroyed divers establishments
According to Bednarik’s statement, two buildings were destroyed and ruled complete losses. They were allegedly shops and mechanic garages. The flames and several explosions spread and destroyed motorhomes, trailers, and several cars. By 3:30 p.m. it was reported that fire in that area was fully contained, though explosions and blasts could still be heard.
When looking for the materials that could have originated the explosions, the owner of the auto recycling told officials that the only flammable substances that were on his property were some propane bottles and anything that could be inside the cars, Bednarik declared.
A witness told KSL that the fire also caught the power lines, causing the transformers to explode. Apparently, a power outage took place, affecting 2,118 residents of the area. Electricity has already been restored, although it has not been confirmed yet if the outage was related to the industrial fire. However, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Paul Murphy stated Friday afternoon that there was a possible connection between the outage and the fire, according to KSL.
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The fire burned a total of 50 acres and was completely extinguished at 4 p.m, according to a report by the fire department.
Firefighters were exposed to the flames for four hours, but only one official was reported to suffer from a heat stroke. He was immediately treated.
The Salt Lake City International Airport was also affected by the fire. Airport officials reported that eight flights were delayed because of several passenger bridges that lose power.
Bednarik said that firefighters would be monitoring the area during Saturday to prevent any reignitions.