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Tire fire erupts at west Salt Lake auto recycle business

By | Posted - Jun. 28, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Smoke on the west side of Salt Lake City is from a fire that is burning tires, old automobiles and trailers.

The Salt Lake Fire Department is reporting the fire at Rio's Auto Recycling, 4835 W. 700 South. The blaze was first reported around 3:30 p.m.

Apparently, sparks created by metal-on-metal contact ignited a pile of crushed vehicles, and in Tuesday's hot and windy conditions spread quickly to a small pile of tires and pallets loaded with other cars and metal debris.

Firefighters had difficulty fighting the fire due to the nature of the business.

"The fire quickly spread to tires and to pallets and to other cars piled up in this area, and that just creates a very big challenge for our fire fighters to make it through all this piled up debris to extinguish that out," said Mark Bednarik with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

South winds blew "a big, heavy black plume of smoke" across Salt Lake International Airport flight paths, but no flights were diverted or delayed, Bednarik said.

Workers and firefighters were worried about the fire spreading to three gas tanks located on the property. Luckily, the fire was contained before reaching any of those tanks.

No one was injured and no structures were involved. About 10 salvage yard workers evacuated the business and called 911 when the blaze started, Bednarik said. "The people on site did exactly the right thing."

The main blaze was contained within 35 to 40 minutes, and firefighters spent another hour moving piles of salvage metal with heavy equipment to locate and extinguish hot spots. At that point, with jagged metal and potentially unstable piles of junked cars, the safety of firefighters was the main concern, Bednarik said.

Story written by Ladd Brubaker with contributions from Jennifer Stagg.



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