A mechanical malfunction was the apparent cause of a fire that forced the evacuation of employees at the Plastic Fabricating shop Monday evening.

Fire crews responded to 3571 S. 300 West about 8:30 p.m. Monday to find plumes of thick black smoke pouring out of the shop, said Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Bill Brass. The three employees gathered outside reported the fire began when a machine malfunctioned, causing a 3-by-5-foot piece of plastic to drop prematurely, landing on heating coils used to mold it.Routine procedure called for the plastic to be scraped and burned off the coils, but the plastic caught fire instead, said employee Mark Laird. Another employee said he attempted to put the fire out with an extinguisher, but called 911 when it re-ignited a number of times.

Though the fire turned out to be relatively small, Brass said extra crews were called in because of the heavy black smoke which could be seen as far away as Sugar House.

Brass estimated the damage to the business at about $1,000.