House fire in Winchester Hills prompts large, multiagency response

Volunteers from the Winchester Hills Fire Department respond to a structure fire in a home in the Winchester Hills area of Washington County, Utah, Jan. 11, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. St. George News

WINCHESTER HILLS – A passerby likely saved a home from being completely destroyed in a fire by alerting the residents to smoke coming from the roof Friday night.

Smoke and flames can be seen from miles away as a result of a fire at a residence in the Winchester Hills area of Washington County, Utah, Jan. 11, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Jessica Sheffer, St. George News

Shortly after 10 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire in the Winchester Hills area of Washington County involving a single-story home after the resident called 911 to report smoke coming from the rear of the building, firefighter Dave Grate of the Winchester Hills Volunteer Fire Department said.

Active flames shooting from the roof toward the north side of the structure greeted firefighters as they began tackling the blaze, while reinforcements from St. George and Diamond Valley began to arrive.

Fire crews battled the blaze for more than an hour. Once the active flames were extinguished, they continued overhauling areas on the roof that were still smoldering and then remained at the scene for several hours.

The family was able to self-evacuate safely before fire crews arrived, Grate said, crediting the passerby who initially alerted the residents to the smoke.

The rear section of the home sustained extensive smoke and fire damage that extended into the interior of the home and burned through portions of the roof.

A witness said a large group of volunteers assembled at the scene to provide support services to firefighters. These volunteers regularly assist at fires, as it can take time for fire crews from outside of the area to arrive. While they do not take part in any firefighting tasks, the volunteers clean and roll up hoses, bring supplies and provide other civilian support.

“It’s good because this is a very tight-knit community, so we look out for each other out here,” the witness said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Grate said, and no injuries were reported.

The Winchester Hills Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire with backup from St. George Fire Department and the Diamond Valley Fire Department, with a total of more than 30 firefighters at the scene.

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

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