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An iron worker cutting a hole in the roof of a warehouse under construction near 2100 South and 4250 West set the building on fire. The fire broke out at about 11:15 a.m., and the flames spreading quickly across the roof generated massive amounts of black smoke that could be seen across the Salt Lake Valley. Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control in fairly short order, but those close to the situation think that the fire was entirely preventable and that the iron worker should not have been on the roof with his welding equipment.

The heat of the torch used by the worker or the flames set the roof membrane on fire, and the flames spread quickly because of the flammability of the membrane material. The membrane is petroleum based which generated very black smoke and that, coupled with high winds, caused the huge smoke plumes that spread across the valley.

Because the membrane material used to finish the roof is so flammable, contractors familiar with this type of construction say that a welder should not be on such a roof once the membrane is down. About 30 workers inside the building were evacuated safely and although dollar estimates for the damage are not yet available, firefighters indicated that the damage is significant and that repairs will be expensive.

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