CALDWELL-- It was a very quiet scene Tuesday at B&T Auto Salvage in Caldwell where just a day ago a huge fire shot plumes of smoke so high into the air that they could be seen all the way in Boise.

This is the second time a fire has broke out at this salvage yard. The first one happened in 1996 and back then there was real concerns over contaminants getting into a nearby canal.

Old cars fueled Monday's fire. To most of us this is just junk, but to the owners it is their livelihood, and as the saying goes, they saw one third of their business go up in smoke.

KTVB spoke with the owner, but he was too upset to go on camera.

He remembers the 1996 fire like it was yesterday, and so does Middleton Fire Chief Brad Trosky who fought both fires.

Once you get a fire in one car like that that's in the middle of a salvage yard, it's going to spread from car to car, and it's going to do it rapidly, said Trosky.

In 1996, firefighters used nearly 1.2 million gallons of water to extinguish the fire, compared to just 300,000 gallons this time around.

Monday's fire was controlled in 8 hours, while in 1996 it took 39 hours to get the fire under control.

The reason that's significant is because the amount of water used this time helped prevent runoff of contaminants getting into an irrigation canal that runs in the back of the lot.

That irrigation water is used to irrigate food and the stuff that we're going to be eating and we're very concerned about protecting the environment, said Trosky.

Hazardous materials crews and the Environmental Protection Agency were on scene until 1 a.m. Tuesday and found no traces of contaminants anywhere near the canal.

The owner says there is no insurance for the salvage yard because it is too expensive to buy, so he won't be able to recoup his losses.

The Middleton Fire Department says there was nothing wrong with the condition of the salvage yard that would have contributed to the fire.

As for the cause, there are conflicting reports, but all indications are it was accidental.

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