CEDAR CITY – Some Cedar City residents and their guests were startled from sleep early Saturday morning when a passing vehicle caught fire in a residential neighborhood.
Mindy Lister, of Arizona, was visiting her oldest daughter in Cedar City and was asleep in a room in her daughter’s house. She said she was awakened around 4:30 a.m. by the sound of someone turning on the hose outside her window and dogs barking. Lister said she looked outside and saw a man, approximately in his 20s, standing outside the window attempting to turn the hose on.
“I look out in the street and there are flames underneath the car in the middle of the street,” Lister said.
She said she felt nervous because the man and another man with him were rough looking – covered in tattoos and wearing bandanas. But the man asked her for help, so she called 911.
“I was dialing the 911 operator,” Lister said. “He was spraying (the vehicle) with water, and that just engulfed it, the whole front of it.”
Instead of extinguishing the fire, she said, the water caused the flames to spread.
“You could feel the heat from the fire inside where (we) were sleeping,” Tristyn Lister, 9, said.
By the time responders arrived, Mindy Lister said, the vehicle, which she described as a red sports car, was burned almost to the trunk area.
“The car was pretty much engulfed,” she said. “The police had everybody come out and move their cars away as far as they could from it because (the fire) hadn’t gotten to the gas tank yet.”
Tires exploded on the vehicle, she said, making a loud popping sound.
“It sounded just like a loud firework,” Abbi Lister, 8, said. “All the wheels popped and the windows shattered.”
“And the glass was melting,” Tristyn Lister said.
When the Cedar City Fire Department arrived, firefighters began extinguishing the fire, Mindy Lister said. When the flames were out, firemen cut open the trunk of the vehicle.
From inside the trunk, firefighters pulled out a backpack and a very large duffel bag. Inside the duffel bag, Mindy Lister said, she saw a large number of small plastic baggies. She said it looked like the responders had found drugs in the car.
Shortly after that, she said, she went inside to put her kids back to bed.
Officer Jordan Smith, of the Cedar City Police Department, said no drugs were found in the car. There was only clothing and things like that, he said.
There were suspicious factors relating to the incident, he said, but he said he couldn’t elaborate because the matter was under investigation.
“There is a suspicious circumstance to it,” he said.
Regarding the fire itself, he said, the cause was not suspicious.
“I’m not a fire expert, but it appeared to start in the engine compartment,” he said.
He said he believes mechanical issues were the cause of the fire.
Smith said the vehicle was a total loss and had to be towed from the scene.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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