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Fire investigators will look into the cause of the blaze, but Bowen said it initially appeared to be the same as on July 3: spontaneous combustion, caused by a combination of recent hot, dry weather and the heat naturally generated within the pile by the composting process.
Sixty-five firefighters fought the blaze, aided by a fleet of water-pumping engines, ladder trucks and other heavy equipment. One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation, but was reported to be fine. No other injuries were noted.
New regulations being considered
The South Salt Lake City Council has scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday to consider an ordinance imposing additional fire code requirements related to the outdoor storage of wood chips and associated materials. The meeting will be held in council chambers at 220 E. Morris Ave.
Fire Chief Ron Morris characterized the blaze as "the equivalent of a three-alarm" fire in terms of response. "It stretched our resources considerably," he said.
"A lot of guys put their lives on the line and were able to stop that fire," Morris added, noting that winds kicked up to 50 to 60 mph at one point, blowing fire hose streams back onto crews.
In addition to South Salt Lake firefighters, crews from Taylorsville, Murray, Unified Fire Authority, Salt Lake City, Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, Riverton, Draper and West Valley City responded.
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