Responders in Colorado City stretched as apartment fire, crash occur minutes apart

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ST. GEORGE — First responders were kept busy in Colorado City, Arizona, Saturday evening when an apartment fire and a two-vehicle crash were reported within minutes of each other.

Map shows location on Lauritzen Drive where an apartment fire was reported Saturday evening in Colorado City, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2018 | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

The first call to 911 came in shortly after 6:30 p.m. involving a downstairs apartment that caught fire on the 400 block of North Lauritzen, with heavy black smoke rising into the residence above.

Upon arrival, firefighters entered the downstairs apartment to find the wall behind a fish aquarium on fire and spreading up the wall as it burned through the insulation toward the outside of the structure, Hildale/Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said.

Firefighters extinguished the visible flames coming from behind the aquarium relatively quickly, Barlow said, and then began the task of putting out the fire working its way up through the material inside of the wall.

Meanwhile, a two-vehicle crash was reported on Arizona state Route 389 near the Pipe Spring exit involving a four-door passenger car and a small SUV.

“Both the fire and the crash came in almost simultaneously,” Barlow said.

Barlow directed the response to the crash while working the fire, sending a heavy rescue truck, two ambulances and a paramedic rescue truck to tend to the scene on SR-389.

Back at the apartment, firefighters completely extinguished the blaze and then began the task of overhauling the areas burned. Crews opened walls and other voids to look for hidden fires or hot spots that may cause a rekindling.

The downstairs apartment and all furnishings were completely destroyed by smoke, which left the walls several feet down from the ceiling “completely black,” Barlow said, adding that the dwelling’s bedding and furnishings were covered in a layer of soot.

“The smoke coming from the fire was very dense — black smoke that likely came from the plastic hood on top the aquarium that burned,” Barlow said.

The upstairs residence also sustained moderate smoke damage, but the worst was confined to the downstairs apartment.

Investigation into the cause of the fire revealed that the it likely started when the pump sitting on top of the aquarium cover overheated, Barlow said, catching the plastic covering of the pump and tank cover on fire, which then spread to the wall directly behind the tank.

Crash injures two

Crews not involved in fighting the apartment fire arrived at the scene of the two-vehicle crash on SR-389 to find two of the seven occupants injured. They were loaded into ambulances and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for evaluation and treatment. The five occupants who remained at the scene declined transport to the hospital.

Map shows the area of state Route 389 where a two-vehicle crash was reported in Mohave County, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

At the time of the crash, vehicles heading west on SR-389 were slowing down to move past a disabled bus that was sitting on the shoulder of the highway, Barlow said.

The driver of the four-door passenger car was unable to slow down in time and struck the small SUV from behind.

The impact deployed the airbags in the SUV and caused moderate damage that required the car to be towed from the scene, while the passenger car remained operational and was driven from the area.

Two of the individuals involved were left stranded at the scene and were given a courtesy ride by the fire department, Barlow said.

Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue assisted the Hildale/Colorado City responders by sending crews to Hildale. They remained at the town’s fire station in case they were needed and didn’t leave until the two scenes were wrapped up just before 10 p.m.

“Our three ambulances and support vehicles were at scenes, so we did a ‘move up,’ where Hurricane sends an ambulance and crew up here to cover our stations in case we get a call,” Barlow said. “And we really appreciate their help.”

This report is based on statements from emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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


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1 Comment

  • Redbud October 29, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    I hope the fish are ok!

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