Blazes abound in Southern Utah on July 4th as fireworks ignite brush, dumpsters

ST. GEORGE — Firefighters in Southern Utah were kept hopping with fireworks-related incidents during Independence Day Thursday.

A brush fire caused by fireworks burns below Donalee Drive as firefighters fight the blaze before it is able to spread, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

In St. George, firefighters responded to 26 fireworks-related calls between 9 p.m. and midnight, 22 of which were brush fires, while the remainder were fires that started in dumpsters, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker told St. George News.

A majority of the brush fires were confirmed fireworks-related and a few of them were extinguished before firefighters arrived, either by neighbors using hoses or by other means.

One of the brush fires caused an estimated $4,000 in damage to receivers, transmitters and other equipment owned by a local internet provider on the west side of the hill near Blackridge Drive, Stoker said.

A second fire that started in roughly the same area caused minor damage to a residence, Stoker said, adding that both fires were reported in fireworks-restricted areas and the individuals responsible were later cited by police.

Stoker explained that a person who starts a fire, regardless of whether they are in a restricted area, can be held responsible for fire suppression costs.

A fireworks-related brush fire burns off of Crestline Drive as firefighters are en route to extinguish the blaze, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Cruz Gonzalez, St. George News

“Even if you are in the middle of the street, for example, and the fireworks tip over and send sparks shooting toward a neighbor’s house that catches the house or yard on fire, you are still responsible for any damage that results.”

The dumpster fires were caused by improper disposal of fireworks, Stoker said, explaining that hot fireworks should be soaked in water before they are disposed.

Washington City

In Washington City, there were three fires reported that were all extinguished while the Fire Department was en route, Washington City Fire Capt. Julio Reyes said, noting that they were all fireworks-related.

Echoing Stoker’s comments, Reyes said improper disposal is one of the leading causes of these types of fires.

Fireworks typically have a thick covering designed to limit the transfer of heat to reduce the risk of burns, Reyes explained, noting that there is a downside to this design:

That thick covering can also make them cool to the touch, leading people to believe they are completely out and cold, when in fact they are still hot and can continue to smolder for hours.

Ivins

Improper fireworks disposal also caused the only fire reported in Ivins in the early morning hours Friday, Santa Clara/Ivins Fire Chief Randy Hancey said. The fire started in a trash can and was discovered by a neighbor who called 911. Firefighters arrived and completely extinguished any burning embers to prevent reignition.

Hancey added that fireworks should be soaked in a bucket of water overnight before being disposed. Considering that trashcans are typically placed on the side of the home, he said “the worst thing you can do is to throw fireworks in the trashcan.”

Hurricane

Hurricane Valley Fire District crews were kept busy with multiple brush fires reported within a few hours, including a fire reported on state Route 9 that burned for several hours.

Cedar City

In Cedar City, seven fires were reported Thursday, most of which were brush fires and at least two started in dumpsters, Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips said, adding that all the fires were extinguished before any structures were threatened.

 

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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