HURRICANE – Southbound traffic on Interstate 15 was reduced to a single lane near the Hurricane exit Monday afternoon as fighters tended to three small, possibly human-caused brush fires along the median.
Multiple agencies descended on southbound I-15 between mileposts 16 and 18 to tackle the three fires believed to have been ignited in the wake of a tire blow out.
“Preliminary investigation is showing we probably have a blow out on a tire and the vehicle traveled the road for a for a little while, starting the fires,” said Mike Melton, area fire management officer of southwest Utah with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. “We’re still investigating that further.”
While the fires stayed alongside the median, one of the fires began to spread toward the northbound lanes while torching a guard rail. The area where the fire took place is unincorporated, state-owned land, and is estimated to have been around 2 acres in size, Melton said.
Resources responding to the fires included manpower and equipment from the Hurricane Valley Fire District, Washington City and Leeds Area fire departments, and units from the Bureau of Land Management and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Units with the Utah Highway Patrol, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Department of Transportation were also on hand to direct traffic.
The fires were contained by 5:45 p.m., with mop up operations lasting about another 30 minutes. The closed lane was reopened by 6:30 p.m.
In the wake of the fire, Melton is asking the public to be mindful of the factors that can trigger a brush fire.
“There’s a myriad of different things that can start a fire when temperatures get up in the high 90s and relative humidity is low – any type of heat can start a fire,” Melton said. “We ask the public to be cognizant of those things and just be vigilant … Give it a second thought, because sometimes a second thought is going to save a whole lot of problems.”
This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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