Welding spark likely cause of massive Cicero fire; black smoke visible for miles
A fire was reported at A&P Auto Parts in Cicero May 23, 2017. Fire department officials said a man was welding outside when a spark set a nearby pile of scrap on fire. (Cicero Police Department)
By Kira Maddox | firstname.lastname@example.org
updated May 23, 2017 at 9:43 PM
CICERO, N.Y. -- Thick, black smoke was seen for miles after a massive fire sparked outside a commercial building in northern Onondaga County Tuesday morning.
Officials believe a spark from welding equipment being used outside led to the fire, which had flames reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet, said Jon Barrett, chief of the Cicero Volunteer Fire Department.
It took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the large outdoor fire under control, officials said. They stayed for a full two hours to make sure there were no hidden embers.Cicero Police Department
The county 911 center received a report of an industrial fire at 11:03 a.m. in Cicero, dispatch records show. A fire started outside A&P Auto Parts at 8572 Brewerton Rd.
A&P has been in business since 1969, specializing in dismantling vehicles and selling used and remanufactured automobile parts.
An off-site contractor was working on the company's car crusher with a welding tool when a spark ignited a nearby pile of scrap metal, Barrett said.
The scrap pile and fire covered about a 400 square-foot area, Barrett said. The pile was predominantly made up of old metal and plastics from previously crushed vehicles that were supposed to go out for recycling.
"The positive thing was that there was no fuel or gasoline in any of the cars," he said.
People saw dark smoke from the blaze from miles away, including from nearby Interstate 81 past the tree line. Many people called 911 to report the fire, Barrett said.
The road was closed at the intersection of Brewerton Road/Route 11 and Route 31, and at the intersection with Meltzer Court for about an hour while firefighters worked to control the flames. A&P didn't formally close, but it did keep employees at a safe distance unless they were called on to help with something.
"We have a good working relationship with them through trainings and everything," Barrett said.
It took about 45 minutes to get the bulk of the fire under control, though firefighters spent about two hours on scene making sure there were no hidden pockets inside the scrap, Barrett said. A&P workers used different machinery to lift and move the heavy piles of metal so firefighters could check for lingering embers, he said.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the outside pile, and it did not spread to any important machinery or the A&P building, Barrett said. He said the business operated normally the rest of the day.
No serious injuries were reported to civilians, employees, or firefighters.
Members of the North Syracuse and Brewerton Fire Departments were also called to the scene, with the East Syracuse Fire Department and Clay Fire Department on standby and fielding other calls in the area.