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Fire destroys Sandy snowplows, causes $4M-$5M in damage

SANDY — A massive fire at Sandy's public works building brought out more than 100 firefighters late Thursday and early Friday and destroyed half of the city's snowplow fleet.

Eleven of Sandy's snowplows were lost in the blaze, according to Mayor Tom Dolan's office. The fire was started by a mechanical or electrical failure in one of the 10-wheelers in the building, the mayor's office reported.

The mayor also reassured residents Friday that not all of the city's snowplows were kept in one building.

With their snow removal fleet cut in half, Dolan and a member of the Public Works Department held an emergency meeting Friday to address how to manage the rest of the winter. To make up for the loss of 11 snowplows, the city will retrofit other 10-wheel vehicles in its fleet, such as vehicles from the Public Utilities Department, with current snowplow equipment.

The Utah Department of Transportation also offered the city five plows to use through the remainder of the season, city officials reported.

While Sandy officials believe they should be able to cover all their routes by retrofitting other vehicles, the city has also received numerous offers from "just about every city along the Wasatch Front" to lease plows or have portions of the city added to their routes, Dolan said.

Sandy officials say they will accept those offers if needed. As a last resort, the city is also prepared to lease snowplows.

The bottom line, according to the mayor's office, is that Sandy residents shouldn't notice a difference in their snowplow service.

"We do not expect to see any problems with the services that our citizens always enjoy," Dolan said. "You can replace equipment. You can replace buildings. We are fully insured. It will just take time."

Early damage estimates are between $4 million and $5 million, according to Sandy Fire Battalion Chief Eric Larson.

"This is a major loss for the city," he said.

Sandy has insurance that will cover the property and snowplow losses, city officials said, and insurance representatives were on scene Friday.

The blaze was reported about 11:30 p.m. Thursday in the building at 8775 S. 700 West, dispatchers confirmed. Crews from multiple agencies were still dousing the building into the early morning.

Larson said he believes the blaze may have started in a vehicle and then quickly spread. The fire brought the building's roof crashing down onto the city's fleet of snowplows.

"A majority of the plow trucks and salt trucks that were in there, they've been destroyed in the fire," Larson said.

Some of the city's snowplow drivers also came to the scene of the fire Friday, saying they felt the loss personally.

"There are no seat cushions or anything. All of the light fixtures are all melted," Cameron Anfinsen said of the truck he has driven for three years. "You start thinking immediately, 'What are (we) gonna do for the next storm, especially this time of year?'"

Anfinsen said he treated the 10-wheeler like "my own personal ride," taking care to wash, detail and inspect it regularly. He reiterated his committment to keeping the streets clear when the snow returns, no matter what he's driving.

Larson reported that the first firefighters arriving at the scene late Thursday encountered a large amount of smoke coming from the building and immediately called for backup.

Response continued to build until four alarms had been called out on the fire, with crews responding from Unified Fire Authority, West Jordan, South Jordan, Murray, South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City.

The crews managed to save about half the building, including office space and storage for other city vehicles, Larson said.

"We felt like we limited our loss substantially," he said.

Crews are expected to remain at the scene of the fire for days, according to Larson.

No one was injured in the fire.

Contributing: Jed Boal