Combusting fertilizer believed to be cause of fire

WASHINGTON CITY – A pile of combusting fertilizer is believed to be the culprit behind a short-lived fire that scorched the side of a home in Washington Fields Wednesday.

Around 12:30 p.m., the Washington City Fire Department was made aware of a structure fire in the area of 450 West Street and Harvest Lane. When firefighters arrived on the scene they encountered a small fire on the north side of a residence that had burned the side of the wall and reached up into the attic through the eaves.

The fire didn’t get much farther as the Fire Department was swiftly notified and firefighters arrived to douse the fire, Washington City Fire Chief Matt Evans said.

Firefighters respond to a small fire by the side of a home in Washington Fields that is believed to have been triggered by combusting fertilizer, Washington City, Utah, Spt. 14 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Firefighters respond to a small fire by the side of a home in Washington Fields that is believed to have been triggered by combusting fertilizer, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 14 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The cause of the fire is believed to be a pile of fertilizer that had been stored next to the wall and covered with plastic sheeting and possibly other material.

Over time, as the fertilizer got wet it started to break down like a pile of compost that had started to decompose, Evans said.

The breakdown of the fertilizer created a level of heat that, once it hit the right temperature to burn plastic and paper, ignited a fire next to the house.

If the fertilizer had been stored in a more open area without other materials clustered around it, the heat from the decomposition would have dissipated and there wouldn’t have been a fire, Evans said.

Most of the damage from the fire occurred on the outside wall, though some minor damage occurred inside where firefighters took down parts of the wall to remove and extinguish any burning insulation.

A preliminary estimate of damages is between $5,000 and $8,000, Evans said.

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire.

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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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

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