BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — An investigation is underway as to why a fire spread so quickly at a salvage yard on the south side of Brookings.

A column of black smoke could be seen from miles away.

The fire was at Wes’s Salvage Yard on South Main Avenue. According to Brookings Fire Chief Pete Bolzer, what started as a small garbage fire in a barrel quickly spread to piles of tires and dozens of salvage vehicles.

This is what it looked like when Bolzer arrived on scene around 2:00 p.m. Monday.

  • Fire at Wes's Auto Salvage
  • Fire at Wes's Auto Salvage
  • Fire at Wes's Auto Salvage
  • Auto salvage fire

“When the tires were burning, it was all black smoke,” Bolzer said.

Nearby neighbor, Lori Parsons, was on her way home when she saw the smoke.

“Huge black cloud of smoke and it just billowing and billowing and billowing. When I got home, there was lots of explosions back there,” Parsons said.

Fire crews from Brookings, Aurora and Volga were all on scene.

“They all came with tanker trucks, and they were all taking turns going and refilling. I bet they went 20 times at least,” Parsons said.

“The original report came in as a pile of trees that were burning, and then it quickly spread to multiple piles of tires, and then from there it spread to about 30-40 salvage vehicles,” Bolzer said.

Bolzer says it took awhile to get a water supply established since there were no hydrants in that area.

“We have to haul all the water. Every time we’d make headway on the fire, we’d run out of water and we’d have to shut down,” he said.

There were no injuries or damage to any structures, but it’s one that Bolzer won’t forget.

“You always look at a salvage yard and all of that, and you go, ‘What would I do in case?’ And today we found out what we’d do. We found out that we need a lot of personnel and a lot of water and a lot of resources because it was just getting away from us in the beginning,” he said.

Crews cleared the scene at around 6:30 p.m.