Homeowner cited after gas torch starts brush fire

Brush fire on Motoqua Road near Nevada State line brought a multi-agency response after a homeowner started the fire with a gas torch, Washington County, Utah, July 13, 2019 | Submitted photo, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah — Authorities cited a resident who had been using a gas torch to clear yard debris after the torch’s flames spread to a nearby home.

The fire started in a remote area of Washington County, said Mike Melton, area fire management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Multiple agencies responded to the brush fire on Motoqua Road, west of Gunlock near the Nevada State line,

Brush fire on Motoqua Road near Nevada State line brought a multi-agency response after a homeowner started the fire with a gas torch, Washington County, Utah, July 13, 2019 | Submitted photo, St. George News

Crews prevented the fire from spreading into the home and continued suppression efforts the fire was extinguished, Melton said.

Once the fire was contained, crews began digging down through the brush and grasses to extinguish any lingering embers. Melton noted that crews will return to inspect the area Sunday to ensure the fire is completely quashed.

Melton went on to say the homeowner was burning yard debris when strong winds whipped through the area, making it difficult for the homeowner to control the fire on his own.

“The homeowner had taken steps to burn safely and was trying to do it right,” Melton said, “but he was also burning the weeds around his house contrary to the law.”

Neighbors helped “keep the fire in check” using garden hoses to douse the flames until fire crews arrived, he said.

Map with red pointer depicting Motoqua Road where a fire was started in a remote area of Washington County | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Fire suppression efforts were hampered by the fact that the fire was reported in a remote area nearly 30 miles from any municipal services and the water needed to fight the blaze had to be transported to the area in a number of engines, water tenders and large brush trucks, Melton said.

As such, fire crews from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Santa Clara/Ivins Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, while the Washington County Sheriff’s Office also responded and cited the homeowner for burning without a permit and reckless burning, Melton said.

The next-door residence sustained fire damage to the exterior of the building while inside there was smoke damage.

“We were really lucky on this one, because it is a long way out there and those winds could have spread the fire much further,” he said.

Also on Saturday afternoon, a sport utility vehicle fire threatened a Cedar City apartment complex on East Cobble Creek Drive, according to Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips.

Crews responded and extinguished the blaze before it had a chance to spread to any nearby structures. The investigation is being conducted by the Cedar City Police Department, he said, and the cause is undetermined at this time.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

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

 

 

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

 

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