Massive salvage yard fire challenges firefighters

Fire at Monterrey Iron and Metal on Frio City Road burned for about 4.5 hours

By Ben Spicer - Web Producer, David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor, Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A large fire at a salvage yard on the city's Southwest Side early Friday morning gave firefighters fits.

Russell Johnson, a battalion chief for the San Antonio Fire Department, said when the fire was reported at 1:30 a.m., firefighters could see the flames coming from Monterrey Iron and Metal, which is located 5 miles from the fire station in the 2300 block of Frio City Road.

Johnson said the majority of that fire was made up of tire scraps, magnesium and foam from car seats.

The salvage yard grinds up the items and separates metal from the rest of the materials. Johnson said it appears the metal pieces may have ended in the wrong pile. 

"We were thinking that there was some hot metal that was ground up in it today, sometime earlier, and it just sat there and smoldered until it caught on fire," he said.

Firefighters used foam to contain the blaze because of the fire's size and contents.

"This pile is probably 40 or 50 feet deep and two or three acres of foam and all kinds of stuff," Johnson said.

Firefighters were concerned about the possibility of smoke carrying hazardous chemicals into nearby neighborhoods, but a hazmat crew determined the air was safe to breathe.

"They tested the smoke and they tested the water runoff, and they said it was all clean," Johnson said.

The blaze took about 4 1/2 hours to put out, and fire crews planned on keeping an eye on the pit of debris Friday to make sure it doesn't catch fire again.

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