Kids playing with lighter ignite apartment fire

ST. GEORGE — A structure fire in an apartment allegedly started by juveniles brought a heavy arsenal when more than 20 firefighters and nine fire trucks descended on Diagonal Street Saturday afternoon.

St. George Police officers cordon off Diagonal to allow responders and firefighters to tend to an apartment fire Saturday afternoon, St. George, Utah, Apr. 8, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly before 2 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire in an apartment complex on the block of 500 West on Diagonal Street after one of the tenants called 911, St. George Fire Captain Scott Peacock said.

Upon arrival emergency personnel found active flames that had spread up both stories of the two-story building, and firefighters began extinguishing the fire that was actively burning on the exterior of the building.

“When we got on scene the fire had extended up both stories, so we quickly put out what was on the exterior and then checked for extension inside,” Peacock said.

Meanwhile, a fire crew checking the interior portion of the building found active flames in one of the first-floor units that had spread through the bathroom ventilation fans. Firefighters pulled the ceiling down to gain access to the fire above and extinguished it.

Firefighters found light smoke but no active burning inside any of the other apartments or the interior of the building.

“So internally just the one unit was affected,” Peacock said, “and externally two units were burning.”

St. George Fire Department descends on Diagnonal Street with a heavy arsenal of trucks, engines and the squad truck on a structure fire Saturday afternoon, St. George, Utah, Apr. 8, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The fire was started when two juveniles were playing with a lighter outside of the apartment building, he said, when shrubs and trees caught on fire, which then spread up the exterior walls of the complex as it ignited the shrubs and trees nearby.

The fire also spread to several electrical meters near the shrubbery, making popping noise after catching fire.

That popping noise is what alerted the residents that something was wrong and discovered the fire as they searched for the source of the noise, prompting them to call 911.

A witness at the scene, Miriam Miles, said the boys allegedly thought that playing with matches near the pool wouldn’t cause any danger, until the wind whipped up and blew the match into a wicker fence situated behind them.

The fence caught fire and spread rapidly, she said, and a neighbor saw the smoke thinking it was a barbecue initially but soon realized it was coming from the fence that caught fire. That neighbor also called 911 to report the fire.

Authorities said the juveniles were playing with a lighter as opposed to matches.

While two of the units were affected by fire and smoke damage, Peacock said, the damage to the electrical meters and equipment affected four units that will be without power for the night until repairs can be made.

No injuries to tenants or firefighters were reported.

St. George Fire Department responded with six engine trucks, two ladder trucks and the squad truck, along with Gold Cross Ambulance. St. George Police Department assisted in cordoning off the street and diverting traffic away from the area.

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: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • mmsandie April 9, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I blame the parents for having lighters where kids can get to them.. Glad no on e was hurt

    • ladybugavenger April 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      I had lighters where my kids could reach them and neither of them burned anything or played with my lighters. I wouldn’t blame the parents, the kids like to play with fire. Hopefully, this didn’t trigger the inner arsonist inside them and they were scared enough to stop. Otherwise, if they got a thrill from it you may start having more fires ?, keep your eyes open

  • .... April 9, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    I got some new socks today

  • Have3bratz April 10, 2017 at 12:35 am

    So the kids got off with a slap on the wrist??? Really you’ve got to be kidding me!!! My daughter did something on a dare and it was very harmless and the St. George police were ready to throw her into detention!!! She was only 10 yrs old mind you… We had to talk with a probation officer, go to court, over something very minor compared to this… And these kids got nothing!!! Something is wrong with the SGPD!!! I hope I’m wrong and they do get some type of punishment, cuz if they don’t I don’t think fear will be enough to stop a next time!!! jS

    • comments April 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

      You’re just blathering on about nothing. It doesn’t even say what the consequences will be for the boys. They obviously need a good belting or something.

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