1 dead, 1 taken to hospital from apartment fire

HURRICANE – While police were able to rescue one man from an early morning apartment fire in Hurricane Monday, responders performing a primary search discovered a woman and a dog inside the residence dead.

Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This incident we had this morning at 2:14 (a.m.) is a very tragic, very heartfelt situation … A person has lost their life,” Hurricane City Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said during a press conference.

Police were dispatched to the Hurricane Apartments at 165 N. 200 West after a neighbor called about hearing an alarm going off, as well as some screaming and pounding next door. When the officers arrived at the scene they saw smoke and flames coming from the apartment.

“The fire started inside the front door, just behind the window,” Chief Tom Kuhlmann, of the Hurricane Valley Fire District, said. The fire had consumed the front room of the apartment as well.

Officers attempted to get in the front door, but ultimately had to force the back door open and encountered a 40-year-old man inside. They were able to coax the man outside, Kuhlmann said.

The man was taken to Dixie Regional Medical in St. George in stable condition, Buell said.

While police officers tried to put the fire out with fire extinguishers, the fire was too intense, Buell wrote in a press release.

“The entire residence was filled with smoke and flames were visible from the front door and window,” he said.   

The officers contacted the Hurricane Valley Fire District and also evacuated residents from three adjoining apartments.

Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“They just took everybody out of there,” neighbor Vinny Langley said. She said she woke up at 3 a.m. and saw the responders outside, and learned later on there had been a fire. “I don’t know how much damage is done or what started it,” she said.

Arriving fire crews initiated a fast-attack on the fire and had it out in eight minutes, Kuhlmann said. Once the fire was extinguished, they began to survey the aftermath and made a tragic discovery.

“Unfortunately, in the room of fire-origin, they found a female deceased,” Kuhlmann said.

The woman, 57, who was found dead inside the apartment had been dealing with health problems and was bedridden, Buell said. She could not move without assistance.

A dog, said by a neighbor to have been a Pomeranian, was also found dead inside.

The woman’s name is not being released at this time, Buell said. As for her relationship with the 40-year-old man encountered by police, all Buell could verify is that the two were possible roommates.

Neighbor Rosalie Linam was alerted to the fire by family members who lived nearby and called to see if she was all right, she said.

“That’s when I came out and saw all the fire trucks and cop cars,” Linam said.

When Linam saw where the fire had happened, she knew who had been involved “… which was hard,” she said, beginning to choke up as she spoke, “because she was a good friend.”

Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Scene of the aftermath of a fire in Hurricane that put one person in the hospital and left another dead, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 9, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The woman in the apartment that caught fire was quadriplegic, Linam said. “She couldn’t walk. She was in her bed in the front room,” she said.

The apartment was a total loss, Buell’s release said, estimating damages to be $75,000.

Residents of two of the evacuated apartments were allowed to return home, Kuhlmann said. Aside from the apartment where the fire took place, the adjoining units sustained some smoke damage.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office, Hurricane Valley Fire District and Hurricane City Police Department jointly conducted an investigation into the cause of the fire.

“The fire itself is under investigation,” Kuhlmann said. “… The patient was on home-oxygen through a concentrator. We’re still going through the rubble of the fire origin to determine what could have contributed to the ignition of the fire.”

For the time being, the fire doesn’t appear to be suspicious, Buell said, yet reiterated the investigation is ongoing.

“An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death (of the woman found inside the apartment),” Buell wrote in his release.

Responding agencies included Hurricane City Police Department, Hurricane Valley Fire District, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Hildale Fire Department, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Hurricane City Power Department and Questar Gas.

“This is an unfortunate tragedy, our hearts go out to the families and those involved,” Buell wrote in his release. “This serves as a reminder to have functioning fire alarms in our homes. In this instance it alerted the neighbor, who was able to call 911 and subsequently help save additional lives.”

Ed. note: Story corrected to reflect police arrived before fire crews.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

 

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • debbie November 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    as a mother of a disabled person i cannot imagine the pain the 40 year old and neighbors and responding officials are feeling.. it is such a helpless feeling after the fact.. only God know why he allows some things and intercepts others.. one day we may get our answers, until then i just try to have faith that God knows what he is doing. I think often what plan do i have “if” this or that happens and how i would get to my now adult child.. ultimately forces of nature can overpower our greatest plans and stop us from doing what we thought we could do. my heart breaks for all these people…. prayers for speedy contentment and peace for all those invovled—>> that is in the end what is stolen from us if we fail to let go. God Bless.

  • raoulette November 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    RIP, you’re finally at peace. I still can’t believe you’re gone, I will miss you so much. There are no words that match what’s in my heart right now, I am devastated as to how all of this probably happened.

    Please, if her daughter or caregiver read this comment, please contact me? I worry how both of you are dealing with all of this. As for the “roommate” my heart goes out to you, as well. Hang in there.

  • Randys Sister November 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    This is just devastating for the roommate, neighbors, family, and friends. My prayers will go out to all involved!

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