Solar panel electrical system triggers fire in home; LDS chapel also goes to blazes

Cedar City fire crews work on scene at an LDS chapel to clean up after a fire sent smoke through the entire building, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 18, 2018 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Fire crews were busy Thursday responding to two fires at a residence and later a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Cedar City fire crews work on scene at an LDS chapel to clean up after a fire sent smoke through the entire building, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 18, 2018 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News

At about 11:45 a.m., Cedar City fire fighters were dispatched to the block of 100 East Roundtree Drive on a home fire caused by electrical issues related to a solar panels used for heating water, Chief Mike Phillips said.

While the fire wasn’t small, it could have been far worse had it not been for a neighbor.

“The cool thing is the neighbor lady came over and the door was open, and she actually shut the door,” Phillips said. “That’s the very best thing you can do because it stops the flow of oxygen.”

Phillips estimated damages to be around $10,000, most of it caused by the smoke.

The fire department was called out again around 4:40 p.m. by an alarm company that notified dispatch that the inside sprinklers had been activated in an LDS chapel located on 3800 West Cody Drive.

Cedar City fire crews work on scene at an LDS chapel to clean up after a fire sent smoke through the entire building, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 18, 2018 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News

“We get false alarms all the time,” Phillips said. “But this time, it was that the sprinklers had gone off, so it was either that one of the sprinklers broke or there was a fire, and we haven’t had enough cold days for the pipes to freeze. So, when I got here I circled the building, did my 360 and there wasn’t any smoke. Then I gained access inside and there was the smoke.”

The sprinklers largely extinguished the flames before crews even arrived on scene.

“The sprinklers did exactly what they were supposed to do. They keep the fire in check until we get there and put it out,” Phillips said. “There was a little bit of smoldering that the crews had to deal with but that’s it.”

Damages are estimated to be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 primarily from smoke but also some from the water.

“When the sprinkler went off it flooded and went into the gym floor, got into the kitchen and some of the rooms and offices and then the whole building was filled with smoke, the whole building.”

The fire originated in the kitchen, but the cause is still under investigation.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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