House fire in Washington City displaces residents; firefighters save family dog

WASHINGTON CITY  — Firefighters in Washington City battled a structure fire that burned through much of a residence and displaced a family Friday afternoon.

Washington City Fire Department responds to a structure in Washington City, Utah, July 26, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly after 3 p.m. firefighters were dispatched to the fire at a residence in the 400 block of North Urie Drive after a motorist on Interstate 15 saw flames coming from the rear of the house and called called 911, Washington City Fire Capt. Mike Harris said. Arriving firefighters first checked the home to make sure it was unoccupied.

“It was unconfirmed whether there was anybody in the home, so that was our main priority,” Harris said. As it turned out, the only resident inside at the time was able to safely evacuate on his own before firefighters arrived.

Once the house was confirmed to be unoccupied, crews began attacking the flames coming from the rear of the home as officers overseen by Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams cordoned off the street.

The blaze spread through the second floor and into the attic, where minutes later a section of the roof collapsed when a heavy air conditioning unit crashed down into the kitchen area.

“Once the roof collapsed, it wasn’t safe to be in there, so we pulled our guys out and initiated the defensive attack,” Harris said.

Meanwhile, crews from the St. George Fire Department and Hurricane Valley Fire District arrived to assist in firefighting efforts.

Fire suppression efforts were complicated by triple-digit temperatures, so the additional firefighters made it possible to rotate the crews quickly to reduce the risk of heat-related injury. A firefighter typically has about 30 minutes of compressed air in their self-contained breathing apparatus, so they need to be rotated before they run out.

Hurricane Valley Fire District responds with a ladder truck to assist with a fire in Washington City, Utah, July 26, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

After battling the blaze for more than an hour, the fire was extinguished. Crews remained at the scene for several more hours to conduct an overhaul of the fire, which entails opening walls, ceilings and voids to check for any remaining embers or flames that could have extended from the back of the structure into other areas not readily visible.

During the overhaul, the family’s dog, a Chihuahua, was rescued by firefighters and carried out of the home to safety, but a pet rabbit was still missing.

The home was significantly damaged in the fire, but whether it was completely destroyed was yet to be determined, Harris said, adding that the structure was uninhabitable after the fire. The American Red Cross responded to assist the displaced residents.

The cause of the fire had yet to be determined as of Friday evening.

The Washington City Fire Department, Hurricane Valley Fire District, St. George Fire Department, Washington City Police Department and Gold Cross Ambulance responded and tended to the scene.

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

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

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