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City council votes for strict changes after massive mulch fire impacts nearby businesses

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Posted at 9:36 PM, Jul 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-17 14:38:48-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE -- Diamond Tree Experts, blamed for a massive mulch fire last week, broke their silence at a city council meeting Wednesday night as nearby businesses demanded change.

"We love being there, we'd like to stay and we've enjoyed it for 15 years but this newcomer has created a threat to every building within the valley," said Steve Getz of America West Laboratories.

"I've got pictures of piles, my sidewalk, I've got pictures of the fire the next day where it's black," said Rick Scoggan of Adrenaline Service.

From businesses to residents and even the city council, they all had their concerns.

"Why hasn't anything been done about this in our city before now? Why did it take a fire like this to catch our attention?" asked one City Councilman.

"I would love to be able to prevent every single fire from ever occurring," said South Salt Lake Fire Marshal Boyd Johnson in response.

Last Thursday, a massive mulch fire believed to be sparked by spontaneous combustion erupted at Diamond Tree Experts. Buildings close by were damaged. Employers have lost time, money and customers. Complaints of the smell and concerns about health hazards were also a topic.

"We do reap the benefits of the wonderful smell,” said Kelly Steele of Trampoline Park. “People do come into our business plugging our nose. We have tons of debris.”

Council members voted to change the city's fire code. Diamond Tree's piles have to be reduced by nearly 50 percent, and the mulch they store has to be kept moist. Also, firefighters will need better access to their stacks just in case.

"Decreasing the pile, yes it is going to help but it's not going to eliminate everything," said a spokesperson with Diamond Tree Experts.

Diamond Tree Experts broke its silence during the meeting, saying the company will do everything it can to avoid another fire, but they can't make any guarantees.

"When you get 50, 60 mph winds it's all dirt," an official with the company said during the meeting. "It's all dust. It's not just my facility. It's all that way. This is what we've been doing and that's what you're going to get out of it."

Diamond Tree Experts declined an on-camera interview with FOX 13 News.

The Fire Marshal is calling the changes to the city's fire code the strictest in the state when it comes to mulch piles.