A massive structure fire in Hyrum on Saturday night burned through two buildings and destroyed the contents of about 30 storage bays, said Hyrum Fire Chief Kevin Maughan.
The fire at Armor Storage of Nibley, which is located at about 4400 South just west of State Road 165, was paged out at about 8:15 p.m.
Maughan said based on his investigation, it appears the fire had only been burning for about 5 minutes before the fire department was contacted.
People who were nearby when the fire started attempted to put the fire out themselves before calling 911.
“It went up hard and fast,” Maughan said.
Cache County fire departments work under a mutual aid agreement so the initial page alerted the Hyrum Fire Department and several others to assist. By the end of the night, three additional alarms brought out fire departments from every agency in the county to provide manpower and equipment.
The fire was easily visible from Logan and brought hundreds of spectators who either watched from their cars as they crawled down the highway or pulled over to watch from the shoulder of the road.
Maughan said he conducted his investigation on Sunday with assistance from several local fire inspectors and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
While he believes they have pinpointed the cause of the fire, Maughan said he prefers to wait until the official report has been completed before he releases that information to the public.
Whatever caused the fire, he said a number of factors contributed to the severity of the damage, which has been estimated at about $1.5 million for the building and $4 to $5 million for the contents.
According to Maughan, the interior construction of the buildings involved included two-by-four framing with a single sheet of plywood between storage bays.
This, paired with the right combination of air and fuel, cause the fire to spread rapidly.
“We had plenty of water at the time … it was just a matter of inaccessibility due to all the extra stacks of clutter that people put in storage units,” Maughan said.
While it may sound like there could have been code violations in the construction of the buildings, each of the structures was built according to code that existed at the time and they were too small to require a sprinkling system or internal fire breaks, he said.
People who rented those storage bays lost everything from household goods and furniture to all kinds of vehicles, he said.
“Basically, all of the things you think of and some of the things you don’t think of in storage, and it’s all stacked high and tight,” he said. “Then, when you put a shell around it (and add an ignition source) that is what you get — a big monster fire.”
To further add to their loss, many of the individuals who lost property in the weekend fire are learning that the business owner is responsible for his buildings but not the contents.
While the fire investigation is nearing completion, insurance companies still have to visit the site before the storage bays can be reopened, Maughan said.
Editor’s note: While “Armor Storage of Nibley” was once located in an unincorporated area between Nibley and Hyrum, it has since been annexed into Hyrum city limits.