Firefighters are struggling to control a huge fire in Salt Lake City, which has been raging since about midday on Friday. Authorities have warned that the Salt Lake City fire could contain hazardous materials.
The fire started after a huge explosion at 4200 West and 700 South, which was noticed several miles away, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported. The Salt Lake City Fire Department has revealed that the fire was caused by a worker at an auto recycling site.
A worker at Rio's Auto Recycling had been cutting pallets, which produced small sparks. The worker thought he had extinguished ... 1/2— SLC Fire Department (@slcfire) July 8, 2016
... all small fires from the sparks and went to lunch. When he returned, he found active fire that he could not extinguish. 2/2— SLC Fire Department (@slcfire) July 8, 2016
The department said that callers reported seeing buildings and storage units on fire, Fox 13 reported.
The Salt Lake City Fire Department disclosed on Twitter that up to 100 firefighters are on the scene. The department has posted pictures of a giant smoke cloud and multiple firefighters busily attempting to quell the flames. The department noted that the blaze has ignited grass and is spreading “aggressively” due to the hot, dry wind. Drivers traveling on the I-80 have been warned to be cautious and avoid the smoke.
According to Deseret News, the Utah Department of Transportation has closed the I-80 between I-215 and 5600 West. Meanwhile, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce revealed that officers have been dispatched to the highway, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported. Sgt. Royce advised motorists against stopping to catch a glimpse of the potentially hazardous flames.
John Gleason, an official with the Utah Department of Transportation, said it is unclear how long the I-80 would remain closed due to the Salt Lake City fire, according to KUTV.
“There are some concerns with the closure, that we are stopping traffic on the freeway. Anyone who stops on the freeway stay in your cars,” Gleason said.
“There are people stopping on the freeway, getting out of the vehicles to take pictures of the fire. This is absolutely unsafe and not recommended.”
At least one acre of land has been scorched by the fire, KSL reported. Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Mark Bednarik said that all the employees of the commercial warehouse on fire have been accounted for. However, the Salt Lake City Fire Department has revealed that one firefighter sustained minor injuries while working to contain the flames.
Benadrik revealed that several barrels containing an unknown substance were spotted burning. He warned the public to stay away from the dark cloud of potentially toxic smoke until the contents of the barrels are verified, Deseret News reported.
Meanwhile, the fire department has revealed that the Salt Lake City fire may be affecting a nearby power station. Officials at Rocky Mountain Power announced that up to 2,100 customers lost their power sometime after the fire started, KSL reported. Mountain Power spokesman Paul Murphy later tweeted to confirm that power has been restored to the customers. It is unclear if the power outage was caused by the fire.
Power restored to 2118 @RMP_Utah near Redwood & 75 customers who lost power so firefighters could tackle the blaze safely.— Paul Murphy (@PaulMurphysLaw) July 8, 2016
According to the Salt Lake City Fire Department, a power substation and a Union Pacific (UP) rail route could be affected by the fire. However, the fire poses no threat to any residential property at the moment, AP reported.
As of Friday afternoon, the Salt Lake City fire had no effect on the nearby Salt Lake City International Airport. Nancy Volmer, a spokesperson for the airport, said that operations at the facility continued as normal, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.
The massive Salt Lake City fire is the second in the city this week. On Tuesday morning, firefighters responded to a call after a group of teenagers unwittingly set fire to a grass while trying to light some fireworks, Fox 13 reported. The fire had threatened homes, but it was extinguished by firefighters in about 15 minutes. The teenagers, who were consuming alcohol, received citations.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]