Firefighters from three departments had to battle both the summer heat and a hot outdoor blaze Tuesday afternoon at a concrete block and steel pipe manufacturing plant in North Salt Lake.
The fire erupted as someone was cutting up metal in the scrap yard behind Amcor Inc., 333 S. Redwood Road. Witnesses said the flame from his welding tool apparently touched off some dry grass nearby and spread to stacks of wooden pallets."Our main problem was manpower," said Fire Chief Brent Argyle of the South Davis Fire Department. "We couldn't get the pumpers close enough because of the heat. The fire was creating its own storm."
Firefighters from Bountiful and Salt Lake City were called to help put out the fire, which quickly consumed spread to a large grassy area just north of I-215. Five large pumper trucks and at least 10 auxiliary trucks were called to the scene.
Argyle said a couple of small explosions took place during the first stages of the fire, but he did not know what had exploded. But plant supervisor Randy Jessop insisted there were no explosions - only close calls.
Jessop said a nearby building containing hydraulic acids was protected from the flames, as were liquid oxygen and acetylene tanks used for welding.
Michael Petersen, an Amcor employee who witnessed the incident, said it was very fortunate the oxygen and acetylene tanks did not explode. "I thought we were going to lose it for a while," he said.
Another employee, Laron Bee, agreed and joked that an explosion would have compared with the explosion that recently rocked Morton Thiokol outside of Brigham City.
"We would have had our own little booster rocket," he said.
Jessop said the fire burned about 2,000 pallets costing $8 each. He said no decision has been made whether any action will be taken against the individual who started the fire.