Fire destroys Toquerville home

TOQUERVILLE — A father and his adult son were displaced after their home burned to the ground Saturday morning in a blaze that required multiple agencies and equipment that lined the street for nearly a block.

Washington City Firefighters assist when a fire breaks out in a home that is fully engulfed when responders arrive Saturday, Toquerville, Utah, May 20, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly before 11 a.m. firefighters and emergency personnel responded to a structure fire after several neighbors called 911 reporting flames coming from the residence on South Ashcreek Drive, Hurricane Valley Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann said.

The two occupants inside were able to exit the home safely with assistance from neighbors.

The fire was first noticed when witnesses were alerted by a noise outside and saw flames coming from under the eves near the roof as well as from the rear of the building.

A Washington County Sheriff’s deputy was first to arrive on scene, Kuhlmann said, and confirmed that the residence was fully engulfed in flames.

The first fire crews arrived within four minutes, he said, followed by multiple fire engines, ladder trucks and firefighters that continued to arrive from agencies throughout Washington County.

By the time Kuhlmann arrived the entire roof of the home was already collapsed, and the entire structure was ablaze.

House is fully engulfed in flames on South Ashcreek Drive where a father and son are displaced, Toquerville, Utah, May 20, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Brittany Andersen, St. George News

“I was on scene within 11 minutes of the call and the structure had already collapsed, which forced us to go into a defensive posture at that point,” Kuhlmann said.

In a defensive operation, Kuhlmann said the first priority is life safety, referring to the safety of the occupants, to ensure they are out of the home and in a safe place well away from the fire. The next priority concerns the safety of the firefighters.

“Once the house collapses and the occupants are out and safe, then we look at the safety of our firefighters and keep them out of the ‘collapse zone,'” the chief said, “so we can make sure they make it out and home to their families.”

Fire crews continued to fight the fire and contain the blaze for more than three hours to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the structure or nearby homes.

Kuhlman then called in Toquerville building inspector John Postert whose primary function on fires that include significant structure damage is to make sure the occupants are safe and that the building is secured.

The cause of the fire is unknown and currently under investigation, Kuhlmann said, adding that it appeared to have started in the attic area, but was well advanced by the time the first call was made to 911.

Ladder truck sprays water on fire that engulfed a home on South Ashcreek Drive Saturday, Toquerville, Utah, May 20, 2017 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

The American Red Cross also responded and assisted the elderly man and his son by providing them shelter for the night.

“Neighbors rallied around the two, so they have a lot of support,” Kuhlmann said.

Firetrucks arrived as quickly as possible but many were delayed because of motorists who failed to pull to the side of the road to allow the trucks to pass, he said, adding that it’s a common occurrence.

“Unfortunately it’s very common, and even with this fire, I was delayed several minutes by cars who wouldn’t pull over and impeded our progress to the scene,” Kuhlman said.

Utah state law requires drivers to pull over to the right and stop as close as possible to the edge of the road or curb and be clear of any intersections when a fire engine, police car or ambulance responding to an emergency approaches from behind. Once the vehicle has passed, the motorist can proceed.

Safety comes first, Kuhlmann said, and this fire is a good reminder to make sure every home is safe and equipped with smoke detectors on every level of the house. Batteries should be changed as needed, and the alarms should be tested each month to ensure they are working properly.

“Homeowners insurance will rebuild your house, but life insurance won’t take care of the person, or bring them back, so it’s always life safety first,” the chief said.

The American Red Cross provides a complete Fire Safety Checklist.

The Washington City Fire Department, Hurricane Fire District, Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department, Department of Natural Resources, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the LaVerkin Police Department responded and assisted with the scene.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by fire department and city personnel or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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4 Comments

  • justthetruthsir May 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    These emergency vehicles need a dash cam in every vehicle. If the vehicle(s) don’t pull over they are mailed a ticket for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and another one for contributing to a disaster that could have been kept to a minimum had you not kept them from getting to the scene. One minute for the victim of a heart attack or seizure or being removed from a building on fire is literally the difference of them living or dying. This shouldn’t even be debatable. They’d move if it was their house of fire. But then again, we live in an area where drivers consideration or even awareness of others on the road is non-existent.

    • comments May 21, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      a lot of idiot clueless tourists on that road, and foreign tourists that don’t understand our laws. not just locals this time.

  • debbie May 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I was driving thru hurricane the other day and the second time in A week emergency vehicles were coming thru town and I was so impressed with how all the cars pulled over so fast.. there were alot of ppl walking thru town at time and they groped quickly together to my be a problem.. my thoughts were that this was a great town during emergency so I’m kinda sad to hear this.. guess other times it wasn’t so positive.

  • debbie May 21, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Um, that’s ” grouped quickly together to NOT be an additional problem” —–>>> stupid auto correct!

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