Cause of safe fire unknown PDF | Print | E-mail

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NATALIE ANDREWS - Daily Herald
Investigators have closed their probe into a fire at Pro-Steel Security Safes on Tuesday night, without finding a cause for the blaze.

They do not believe that propane bottles for forklifts in the warehouse caused the fire. The bottles, however, may have aided in the loud explosion that knocked out several wall panels on the structure.

"We've eliminated a bunch of different causes," Provo Deputy Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann said. "The fire will probably remain undetermined. We feel strongly that it was an accidental fire."

Kuhlmann estimates the damages at $50,000 for the warehouse and $40,000 for the products lost inside.

Pro-Steel President Clay Linford said that the safes that were destroyed had a retail value of $200,000. He remained optimistic, though, glad that no one was inside the building when the fire started.

"The building isn't a total loss," he said. "We need new walls on parts of the building. We probably have about 250 damaged safes that won't be resaleable. The rest of the safes were not touched by the fire."

There were 1,000 safes packed and ready to be shipped in the warehouse Tuesday. The fire burned the packing materials -- cardboard and pallets.

The warehouse, which is 20 feet high, 200 feet long and 60 feet wide, is built to sustain an explosion. Explosive panels fell out of the building, leaving the frame.

There were no injuries in the fire. Emergency personnel received calls about a fire in the building at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire did provide the safe company a good look at its product's response to heat.

"When we opened the damaged ones up, the inside was in very good condition," Linford said.

The company tests the safes in 90 minutes of intense heat. In Tuesday's fire, the safes were subject to flames for 30 minutes.

"We test them, but you might say this was a bigger test," he said. "It just shows that they serve their purpose. People, when they buy gun safes, frequently they are buying not only for security, but for fire protection."

The company's other three buildings at the site were untouched. Despite a loss of power in Pro-Steel's office building and the presence of inspectors, power personnel and fire officials, employees worked their regular shift from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Linford said that several employees were surprised to see the damage, though many had seen the fire on the news or received phone calls