Short Creek municipalities offer reward for information on suspicious fires

In this 2018 file photo, thick, black smoke billows from a fire that burned through thousands of tires and threatened structures on nearby property in Hildale, Utah, Nov. 24, 2018 | Submitted photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the party responsible for a rash of fires that have struck the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City, two of which were reported over the weekend.

In this 2018 file photo, fire crews spray water on burning stacks of tires, Hildale, Utah, Nov. 25, 2018 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

Early Sunday morning firefighters were called to a fire reported at a property located near the Short Creek Wash, just east of Jessop Avenue, involving burning stacks of tires.

This isn’t the first suspicious fire reported in the Short Creek area. Hildale/Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said that more than a year ago, there was a “rash” of fires that authorities determined were intentionally set, and then things quieted down and the fires stopped. Recently, he said reports of suspicious fires have been “picking back up.”

Chief Mark Askerlund of the Colorado City Marshal’s Office in Arizona said a $1,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible.

At the scene of the tire fire Sunday, crews initially responded to the property but remained at the scene only to monitor the blaze in case it started spreading to other properties. Without a water source at the scene, Barlow said he thought it best to allow the fire to consume the remaining tires.

Barlow said at least if all of the tires were destroyed, then his crews wouldn’t have to deal with a possible third fire intentionally set on the property later down the road.

On that particular property, there were tires stacked 50-feet high along a slope that was 600 feet long, which functioned as a barrier to reduce erosion on the creek bank that runs along the property. A majority of those tires burned in November, and Sunday morning’s fire burned through what remained.

Barlow added that a similar fire was reported in close proximity to the tire fire the night before that was also suspicious in nature. These and other suspicious fires over the last several months and are what prompted the twin cities to offer the reward.

Suspicious fires are also an incredible waste of department resources, Barlow said previously. Aside from the damage and risk of injury, these types of fire typically stretch the department’s resources, not to mention the time of firefighters who are volunteers.

“Our volunteers have been out here working for more than 24 hours straight,” Barlow said, “and we still aren’t done.”

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the Colorado City Marshal’s Office at 928-875-2695.

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

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