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Orem City firefighters battle a chemical fire at the cinder block warehouse occupied by 801 Racing, an Orem fuel company, on Geneva Road Thursday, March 29, 2012. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald

OREM -- A comb of black smoke arched above Utah County early Thursday afternoon after a chemical fire burst out at an Orem fuel company.

The fire started around 12:36 p.m. at the cinder block warehouse occupied by 801 Racing. Orem fire inspector Casy Vorwaller said the company makes Ferox fuel additives designed to increase a vehicle’s mileage. Workers were pumping fuel Thursday, Vorwaller said, when malfunctioning equipment sprayed flammable liquid on a hot pump. The liquid then ignited.

“Once a flammable liquid goes, it goes fast,” Vorwaller added.

Crews from Orem and Provo responded to the blaze and had it under control quickly. Vorwaller said firefighters fought offensively, meaning they were able to get inside the building to extinguish the flames. Damage to the building was limited due to its cinder block construction, Vorwaller said, though the fire did spread to the wooden roof and rafters.

More than an hour after the fire ignited smoke continued to stream out of vents in the roof and firefighters used a chain saw to cut access holes.

The fire also spread to a nearby Ford Taurus station wagon. The vehicle was parked behind the building and appeared to be completely destroyed.

Jared Steel, a Utah Department of Transportation employee, was working nearby when the fire broke out. He recalled seeing flames and black smoke coming from the building and heard popping noises as the station wagon caught fire and the tires burst.

“It was just billowing black smoke,” Steel said. “Right off the bat you could tell it was a big fire.”

Vorwaller estimated damage to be around $300,000. He said an investigation would determine if the fire was entirely an accident or if it could have been prevented somehow.

Employees of 801 Racing were on scene but declined to comment Thursday.


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