Fire crews battle 40-50-foot flames when Washington City agricultural burn spreads

WASHINGTON CITY — Fire crews battled 40-50-foot flames Thursday after a farmer’s agricultural burn rapidly grew out of control and made its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in Washington City.

A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

The farmer was burning weeds around his fields off Washington Dam Road near the area of 800 S. 1900 East when the fire got out of hand. The fire vigorously spread across an estimated 10 acres through thick tamarisk trees along the Virgin River, Washington City Fire Chief Matt Evans said.

“I would guess that as some of those flames hit some of those pockets of tamarisks – where they had been for a number of years,” Evans said, “and had quite a bit of dead leaves and foliage underneath them – when it hit those pockets, it probably had 40-50-foot flame height.”

Fire crews were dispatched to the blaze at approximately 2:20 p.m. Multiple agencies responded to the fire included those from Washington City, Color Country Interagency, the U.S. Forest Service, Hurricane Valley and Santa Clara, Evans said.

A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

No injuries were reported as crews worked through the afternoon to get the fire safely knocked out.

The last fire crews left just before dark Thursday night, Evans said, and then went back Friday morning to check the burned area to make sure there weren’t any more problems.

Details about the fire are still under investigation, Evans said, and added:

Obviously, they potentially could be financially liable for the resources that it takes to take care of a problem like that.

“We haven’t finished putting all the pieces together to find out what exactly happened,” Evans said. “As you could see from the resources there, there was a substantial amount of resources there that had to come and assist with it. You know, you get down on that riverbank and then that tamarisk gets – it’s pretty thick, it’s pretty tough to get through, and so it took a fair amount of resources to control it and keep it from spreading a lot farther.”

A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A farmer’s controlled burn quickly spread out of control making its way to the south edge of the Virgin River in an area just north of 800 S. 1900 East, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

When those planning to do a controlled burn are prepared and burn in a matter that’s recommended, it leaves less possibility for these kind of incidents to happen, Evans said, stressing the importance of having a water supply nearby during a burn along with some hand tools.

“It’s been pretty hot and dry. We’re at the end of the summer and things are dried out,” Evans said. “People are always surprised at how quickly it moves and how far it goes. Really, it moves a lot faster than most people think, and it starts to heat that vegetation up and dry it out long before the flames ever get there, so it can move through that brush extremely fast, as it did.”

This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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7 Comments

  • Bob September 9, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Dump, it sounds like they needed ur fire control expertise, LOL

    • .... September 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

      as a matter of fact I am part of the fire crew. so what’s your point ?

      • Bob September 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        I know that u believe u are, Dump. The meds will help, take ’em!

        • .... September 10, 2016 at 5:42 pm

          As a matter of fact I took my meds before I went to the fire… so what’s your point dumbob ?

  • hiker75 September 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I certainly hope they do find him liable for the cost of putting out the fire. About time that is done. This would be a good issue for St George News to follow up on.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic September 10, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Good idea, hiker75. Thank you and I’m chewing on it. 🙂

      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • .... September 10, 2016 at 11:06 am

      hiker. yeah I’m in favor of that also. it’s time for those responsible to be accountable for what they do. and stop holding tax payers responsible for financial reimbursement

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