News short: Fire crews respond to Arizona Strip, River Road smoke reports

An agricultural burn was one of two fire reports the St. George Fire Department responded to Monday morning, St. George, Utah, July 27, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Fire Department responded to two separate incidents Monday morning, both of which turned out to be false alarms.

However, St. George Fire Capt. Coty Chadburn said that’s not a problem for the Fire Department.

We’d rather have a false alarm to make sure that the system’s right, than the system not working at all and actually have some major problem,” Chadburn said. “So for us to go on a false alarm, it’s not a big issue.”

The first incident was a report of a brush fire Monday morning on the Arizona Strip, less than a mile south of the intersection of River Road and Southern Parkway. A person driving on Southern Parkway reported heavy black smoke at about 8:45 a.m.

A black SUV was seen near the smoke, but the driver apparently saw the fire engine approaching and took off, St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.

The smoke was first thought to have come from a campfire but, on closer inspection, may have been from someone burning debris, Hooper said.

St. George Fire will respond to initial reports of fires on the Arizona Strip, Hooper said, even though the area is technically the responsibility of the Bureau of Land Management.

“We’ll provide first response,” Hooper said. “If we determine that it’s way too far out there, we’ll just let BLM handle it.”

Hooper said such calls are a frequent occurrence and encourages caution with campfires as they have caused big fires in the past. He urges people to make sure campfires are cold before you leave them.

Two fire engines, a brush truck and a battalion chief responded to the incident.

The second incident was reported a little before 11 a.m., when smoke was noticed near the Virgin River at about 1400 South River Road.

The smoke originated from a farmer doing an agricultural burn, and the farmer had forgotten to call and alert the Fire Department. A concerned citizen reported the fire, and a fire engine happened to be in the area, Chadburn said, and was able to stop and talk to the farmer.

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