News Short: Fire crews keep busy in lightning storm Thursday

FILE PHOTO - A quaking aspen caught fire after falling from an embankment and landing in power lines, milepost 12 on state Route 143, Brian Head, Utah, March 20, 2016 |Photo courtesy of Brian Head Public Safety, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — The storm that moved through Iron County Thursday kept fire crews on their feet as they responded to five single tree fires – all of them caused by lightning.

Cedar City Fire Department responded to all five fires, one that was located at hole-8 at the Three Peaks Disc Golf Course and another west of Cedar City on the Sweat Hills, said Fire Chief Mike Phillips.

The rain kept the fires from spreading but fire crews continued to keep checking the different sites throughout the day.

“The rain pretty much put them out but we had to keep going back just to make sure they didn’t spread,” Phillips said.

Chasing single tree fires in lightning storms is common, Phillips added, saying the most he’s seen in one day is 31 back in 1996.

“There’s usually single tree fires that we end up going out on the day after a storm or even sometimes four or five days later,” he said. “The fires continue to smolder and then the area dries up and then the fire reignites and we get a call out several days after the storm is gone to respond to what is, at that point, a full fire not just a tree smoldering.”

“So we really try to keep checking when we know lightning has hit a tree to make sure it doesn’t reignite.”

In the midst of running from one point to another Thursday, the department also got a call around 2:30 p.m. on what Phillips referred to as a “residential fire” in Enoch, which turned out to be an outbuilding behind a home. The fire was located on the block of 5479 North and 500 East.

The homeowner told authorities he smelled smoke about 2 p.m. but didn’t know where it was coming from at the time. Approximately 30 minutes later, Phillips said, the man realized his shed was on fire.

By the time crews arrived the fire had extinguished itself, the chief said. The incident is under investigation.

Just prior to publication of this report, Phillips notified Cedar City News that fire crews were en route to another fire on the west side of Cedar City on Iron Springs Road near WECCO, or Western Electrochemical.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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