More than 100 guests at Springdale hotel evacuated after fire starts in lower level

File photo of Hurricane Valley Fire District responding to a house fire where smoke was seen coming from the attic, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 5, 2019 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

ST GEORGE — Guests at the Marriott in Springdale awoke to an evacuation early Thursday morning after a fire that authorities say was triggered by spontaneous combustion broke out in the basement of the building.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott on Canyon Springs Drive in Springdale, Utah, photo taken July, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

At about 6:30 a.m. firefighters were dispatched to a report of smoke coming from the hotel, where an evacuation was in progress.

Springdale Police officer Britt Ballard said when he arrived he found a large crowd of guests outside, and after checking with the front desk, he made a sweep of the first floor “and started banging on doors to make sure all the guests were already outside,” adding that he found a few people that were still asleep in their rooms.

Ballard said the hallways were “filled with smoke” during the evacuation.

Firefighters found the heavy smoke in only one of the hotel’s two buildings, Deputy Chief Kevin Gildea of Hurricane Valley Fire District told St. George News, but they were unable to see flames until they entered the downstairs basement.

The flames were coming from a work area where it appeared either painting or staining had recently taken place, and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly before it had a chance to spread.

The fire was caused by spontaneous combustion, Gildea said, adding that the paint or stain had soaked into rags and dropcloths and began to heat up until it ignited, catching the drop cloths and surrounding materials on fire.

Gildea said that some oil-based wood finishes have a tendency to heat to the point of ignition. How rapidly that heating occurs depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the oil, room temperatures and other factors.

“It doesn’t happen with all stains or in every condition,” he said. “It takes the perfect conditions for ignition to take place, which is what we saw at the hotel this morning.”

Gildea recommended taking extra care when using stain and other oil-based paints, making sure that all rags and dropcloths are completely dry before disposing of them.

In total, 114 guests were evacuated and after about 45 minutes the building was cleared and guests were able to return to their rooms. The hotel was equipped with large fans that were used to clear the building of smoke.

Ballard said the fire was contained to a small area.

“It was hard to believe that much smoke that filled the building came from a fire that size,” he said.

The damage was confined to smoke damage and the loss of painting materials and supplies that burned in the work area. No injuries were reported.

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

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!