Salvage yards look for lessons after three-alarm fire

CREATED Apr 25, 2014

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SALEM -- Even when stationary - and picked apart - cars carry plenty of risk.

"When I saw the video, that was quite the cloud of smoke in there," said Gordon Becker, who runs Highway 50 Auto Parts in Kenosha County. "You could tell it wasn't a regular brush or papers."

Becker watched news coverage of the large fire that torched a large auto salvage yard on Milwaukee's south side on Thursday. The three-alarm fire destroyed thousands of vehicles at Roz's Auto Salvage Yard on 13th Street by Mitchell International Airport.

Witnesses described large plumes of smoke, billowing flames and even explosions. Becker and his family had its own unique perspective: they've worked in auto body shops for 30 years.

"Your gas tanks it doesn't take much to ignite," Becker explains to TODAY'S TMJ4. "The trim panels, all the plastic. As soon as that catches fire, it goes up in minutes."

So as investigators continue to sift through the damage in Milwaukee, the Beckers and other salvage yard managers are looking for clues about how to best protect themselves -- and their businesses.

"We've got a lot of money invested in these things," Becker said. "That's our products."