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100 Firefighters Battle Large Fire in Salt Lake City

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100 Firefighters Battle Large Fire in Salt Lake City_78456849-159532

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) At least 100 firefighters and hazmat crews responded to a large structure fire on Salt Lake City’s west side Friday afternoon. 

The fire started at  Rio’s Auto Recycling at 4385 West 700 South. Salt Lake fire officials warned the public to stay away from the area due to the significant amount of smoke in the area. Smoke was considered an “unknown hazmat substance.”

“It’s big, and it’s hot, and what’s intimidating is the unknown.  All the 55-gallon drums, the hazmat, the exploding, the particles, things falling down on us, yeah.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intimidating, and there’s so much heat,” said Capt. Jeffrey Vaughn, with SLC Fire Dept. Company A.

Multiple explosions were reported. Flames from the fire jumped 700 S and sparked a large grass fire.

Utah Department of Transportation says the fire is affecting Interstate 80. I-80 is closed in both directions between Interstate 215 and 5600 West. 

The grass fire also impacted the power substation at 4800 W 700 S. Rocky Mountain Power reported more than 2,000 residents were affected by an outage, but power was restored just after 2:30 p.m. 

Nearby Salt Lake City International Airport officials say although there is significant smoke in the area, the fire has not impacted operations. Officials did report a power “bump” around 1:50 p.m. causing some areas to be put on back-up power. 

Salt Lake fire reports one firefighter with minor injuries. 

Salt Lake City Fire Department says the fire was started by a worker at Rio’s Auto Recycling who had been cutting pallets, which produced small sparks. 

“It’s possible that what happened is they hit a nail within one of those pallets, and caused a spark.  There was a large sawdust pile next to where they were doing this work.  The workers stepped away for just a couple minutes to grab their lunches. When they came back their sawdust pile was on fire,” said Captain Mark Bednarik, spokesperson for Salt Lake City Fire Dept. 
Officials say at this point, they have no reason to think those employees did anything against standard protocol.  They say it is nothing but a terrible accident. 
Because potentially hazaradous chemicals have been seeping into the ground, fire crews say they plan on working with the health department in coming days to assess possible environmental implications. 

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