An employee at a metal recycling yard in Spokane Valley inadvertently started a large fire while using a cutting torch Monday afternoon.
The fire apparently started when a piece of hot slag fell into a scrap pile at Dickson Iron & Metal, 907 N. Dyer Road. Spokane Valley Fire Capt. Greg Rogers said the pile measured about 50 feet by 150 feet.
Firefighters were initially called at about 3:15 p.m. to investigate a pillar of gray smoke, but ended up staying at the scene for nearly five hours, working with Dickson employees to pull apart the pile and douse the flames.
Workers used a tractor equipped with a giant magnet to move hunks of metal.
Rogers said the smoke presented no hazard to the surrounding area. He said the state Department of Ecology was alerted as a precaution because of water runoff from the firefighting effort.
Three similar fires ignited at Dickson Iron & Metal in 2008 and 2009. One of those blazes, in April 2009, destroyed a large excavator, sending plumes of black smoke pouring across nearby Interstate 90, reducing visibility and causing traffic slowdowns.
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