OGDEN A cutting torch, sparks and dry brush fueled a raging fire in an industrial area of Ogden today, decimating four buildings at a recycling plant and shutting down one of the northern Utah city's main thoroughfares.
No one was injured in the 10:20 a.m. blaze at Allied Metals, 555 W. 12th St., but it was a close call for one employee.
Ignacio Contreras was using an acetylene torch to cut up an old railroad car when sparks from the task were carried by the wind to a nearby bush.
"There was a spark and then maybe two minutes there was fire," he said, raising his hand to show flames about as tall as him. He said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried unsuccessfully to put out the blaze, then ran to notify his boss. He said within 10 minutes, the flames were 25 feet high.
In its most fiercest stage, the fire chewed through wood-constructed military barracks containing scrap metals and other by-products of a salvage yard. The result was huge, billowing plumes of black smoke that could be seen as far away as Davis County.
Ogden Fire Marshal Matt Schwenk said the fire burned at least 500 gallons of fuel and charred numerous chunks of metal on the property. Because of the mix of combustibles, the blaze created a sickening stench in the area and heat popped several burning tires.
Teams of Ogden firefighters quickly surrounded the blaze, which was kept from spreading to neighboring businesses such as Amerigas, a propane company.
Bryan Hawks, Amerigas' manager, said the expanse of property between the two businesses made it so his employees did not have to evacuate.
"We've got a lot of ground between us and the fire so the only thing we've done is quit dispensing propane for awhile."
A large chunk of 12th Street was temporarily closed, creating traffic jams stretching back to Wall Avenue and to I-15. Ogden police officers diverted traffic through the Business Depot Ogden entrance and brought them back out to 12th Street from Stuart Road .
Allied Metals owner Stuart Roper said he was not concerned about the damage or loss to his business.
"The buildings aren't a concern. People's safety is a concern." Roper said.
The businessman did concede that dry grass and brush on the 14-acre property have been a major problem for the company and it has even brought in sheep, goats and llamas to do weed control.