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Car mysteriously bursts into flames, sets Utah County recycling plant on fire

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 31, 2021

GENOLA, Utah — Fire crews are working to put out a blaze at a recycling plant in Genola, without an exact reason why the fire started.

Large, dark plumes of smoke could be seen rising in southern Utah County Monday afternoon, around I-15 west of Santaquin.

According to Genola Volunteer Fire Department Chief William McMullin, their fire fighters were called in just before 2:30 p.m. at SFM (Spanish Fork Metals) Recycling, located at 96 N. State Road.

He could tell pretty quickly that this was not going to be easy for the small department to fight -- especially on a holiday.

"I started getting on the radio calling other resources in, because we knew we didn’t have enough people in town," Chief McMullin said.

The flames spread through the yard, reaching large scrap piles and propane tanks. The tanks exploded in the fiery mounds of metal, shooting thick, black smoke into the sky.

Video courtesy of Ryan Hoyer:

Fire at Utah County metal recycling plant

Firefighters got to work, with the fire's exact source a mystery. They used a drone to fight the blaze, looking for hot spots within the large piles.

"It’s kind of rare. Usually there’s a root cause, but this time it was just one of those freak things," Chief McMullin said.

He recounted how an SFM Recyling employee was working on scrapping a car and using heavy equipment on it when the car suddenly burst into flames.

"He was on the excavator, picked up the car -- it already had the gas tank removed, all the fluids, battery -- and as he flipped it over to smash it, it actually spontaneously combusted. No reason," Chief McMullin said. "He’s done it for a thousand times. This time it started on fire."

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McMullin said the fire was no one's fault. No one was hurt, and no buildings were burned.

All things considered, Chief McMullin described how the losses to SFM Recycling were minimal.

"Since it’s salvaged metal, there shouldn’t be any, really any loss," he said.

Volunteer firefighters from several departments, including Genola, Goshen, Payson, Santaquin and Salem, responded and were still on the scene Monday evening extinguishing hot spots within large scrap metal piles. Utah County Fire also responded to assist the efforts.