CEDAR FALLS – A fire that ignited junked vehicles and tires at a Cedar Falls salvage yard Monday may have started with burning trash, authorities said.

The fire, which broke out around 8:30 a.m. in a corner of Aikey Auto Salvage on 1524 Independence St., sent up a column of smoke that was visible as far away as downtown Waterloo. Firefighters worked to contain the flames from spreading as an occasional explosion could be heard.

Officials closed down the nearby railroad as a precaution.

“There was quite a few cars on fire, there was also a lot of tires in that area, too, which is causing a lot of that black smoke,” said Jeff Olson, the city’s director of public safety.

Olson said employees had been burning refuse earlier in the morning.

“They were burning some trash earlier this morning, and some embers or something left that fire barrel and landed somewhere and started a car on fire,” Olson said.

Olson said he and fire officials will be exploring the legality of burning at the site, within the city limits.

“We’ll certainly be looking at it. We haven’t had a chance to discuss it,” Olson said.

No injuries were reported.

Neighboring fire departments in Hudson and Janesville sent crews to assist and help shuttle water to the scene, which doesn’t have hydrants. Olson said salvage yard fires require large amount of water to extinguish.

“You’ve got to get inside crevices and underneath things, and of course tires, as most people know, are pretty difficult to put out,” Olson said.

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