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ST. GEORGE — UPDATED 7:53 p.m.: The brush fire that began around 4 p.m. today along the Virgin River near the construction of the Mall Drive Bridge is 100 percent contained and fire crews are cleaning up the scene. No structures were damaged and no injuries have been reported at this time.
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Video courtesy of Aaron Olsen, St. George News
Large visible flames approximately 50-60 feet high and adjacent to the river, burned through spans of brush, and mature trees near the Springs Park and Cox Farm. The large flames had dissipated by about 6:23 p.m. and fire crews were “mopping up.”
Although amidst neighborhoods, the fire never moved close enough to threaten any homes.
The nearest structures were camp trailers, ATV trailers, corrals and farm buildings located in the river bottom. The fire burned near the Mall Bridge construction zone, but didn’t cause problems to the ongoing construction project.
“It didn’t threaten any structures – it had pretty good surrounding – you had the pond on this side and the river on this side,” St. George Fire Capt. Coty Chadburn said.
“Luckily there was not the afternoon wind like we’ve been having,” Chadburn said. “If there was the afternoon wind it could have been a lot worse.”
Besides structures, the fire did spook some nearby farm animals at the Cox Farm, including some horses.
The fire was originally reported at 4 p.m. Sunday and when the first engine arrived on scene, there was heavy smoke and fire showing, Chadburn said.
Because of the location of the fire – down by the river – the hardest part for the fire personnel was accessing the fire. However, crews were able to find a couple roads along a river canal that gained them closer access to the fire.
Brush trucks arrived shortly thereafter as well as assistance from the Washington City Fire Department, several units from the Bureau of Land Management and a Forest Service unit.
Brooke Milne, a trainer who works with the horses stood by from a distance during the fire. She was was prevented from going down to the horses to check on them and was especially concerned about a mother horse and her baby.
“Whether the fire gets close to them or not, just smelling the smoke can panic them,” Milne said of horses she was concerned about.
I’m frustrated because there are some horse owners down there – so that’s wonderful, they are ready to trailer them out of there if they need to – but when it’s your own animals you just want to be there because if they tried to walk that baby out, she’d be raring and kicking and causing all sorts of problems being this afraid.
Milne works with emotionally damaged horses, the mother horse in danger, being one of them.
“We’ve worked and worked to get their trust back and get them to bond with somebody and so that’s probably the biggest reason that I’m anxious about the ones that are there – the mom has been one that we know we’ll never sell because it’s very doubtful anyone will be able to give her the emotional support that she needs,” Milne said. “The baby’s doing great but she’s just a baby, she hasn’t done much.”
“We have multiple people that have horses down in here that were concerned,” Chadburn said. “Their horses were OK – mostly probably spooked by the noise that was going on with the fire engines.”
The fire was officially reported contained by 7:45 p.m.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, Chadburn said.
St. George News reporter Drew Allred contributed to this report.
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