A local businessman wants Trojan Corp. near the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon shut down until it can assure residents it has adequate fire suppression capabilities.
The Trojan No. 2 fire that started inside the explosives plant's compound Saturday and has burned nearly 3,000 acres alarmed those living nearby. Flames came dangerously close to several homes before firefighters contained the blaze. Thirty homes were evacuated.Mapleton resident David R. Nemelka sent a letter to Trojan Corp. Wednesday "pleading" it cease operations within 24 hours.
"Please notify us immediately of your intentions. We have a right to know what dangers we are subjecting our families to," Nemelka wrote.
Trojan general manager Kendall H. Robins said the company has no response to Nemelka's letter and plant operations are continuing as usual.
The company is cooperating with police and fire officials as they investigate the cause of the fire and examine suppression methods, he said.
"We are identifying what we can do better," Robins said.
Nemelka demands the company stop all testing and blasting and that "all explosive material be removed . . . until our families' and firefighters' lives and safety can be adequately protected."
Nemelka said he represents hundreds of south Utah County residents and made the shutdown request with support of Mapleton city officials.
But the City Council has not publicly discussed the issue.
"The city has not formally backed this kind of thing," said Councilwoman Marilyn Petersen. City officials will discuss the issue at a meeting next week after an investigation into the cause and suppression methods is complete.
Petersen, who was evacuated from her home, said she can empathize with Nemelka. Judging from the number of people who attended impromptu public meetings this week, she believes hundreds of residents share Nemel-ka's view.
Mapleton, which is not contiguous with the Trojan plant in Spanish Fork, has had few problems with the explosives manufacturer.
"We have not had a lot of cause to have any conflicts," Petersen said.
Residents mostly fear the unknown potential for a large-scale catastrophe. "What is the killing radius of the explosives that were in storage on Trojan's property on Saturday?" Nemelka wrote.
Nemelka criticized Trojan's firefighting efforts in his letter. In talks with firefighters he said he learned that response time was irresponsible, equipment was inadequate, water pressure was insuf-fi-cient and that there weren't enough hoses.
"Why should volunteer firemen be asked to risk their lives to go on property of a for-profit corporation in the highly dangerous business of manufacturing explo-sives?" Nemelka asked.
Spanish Fork and Mapleton volunteer firefighters were called to the scene about 5 p.m. Saturday. Nemelka said the fire was first reported to Trojan officials at 4:47 p.m. The blaze was out of control and threatening explosives storage facilities an hour later.
The 33 firefighters backed off the flames because of the danger of an explosion. Nemelka said the fire was then allowed to burn for six hours.
Swirling winds pushed the blaze south across Mapleton Canyon above the city. The U.S. Forest Service later sent crews numbering 375 to the scene as flames raced across the Uinta National Forest.