Truck fire spreads to brush along river near Mall Drive, threatening nearby buildings

A pickup truck is destroyed after catching fire along the Virgin River off of Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, Aug. 14, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A vehicle fire in an area thick with brush threatened nearby buildings in St. George Wednesday evening.

St. George firefighters are joined by crews from Washington City at the scene of a brush fire along the Virgin River off of Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, Aug. 14, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

At 7:20 p.m., firefighters and police were dispatched to the fire involving a pickup truck along the Virgin River just east of Smith’s Marketplace on Mall Drive.

Responding firefighters observed thick, heavy black smoke coming from the area and requested additional engines and brush trucks to be dispatched to the area. The Washington City Fire Department was also called in to assist as the blaze spread from the pickup truck to surrounding brush and vegetation with an apartment complex and other business structures located nearby.

Fire crews arrived to find the truck fully involved in fire and were soon confronted with what sounded like small explosions going off as ammunition inside the pickup began to explode from the heat of the blaze.

“Our concern was not only with the vehicle but also with the fire potentially spreading to the thick brush, which would have immediately threatened several structures in the area,” Hopper said.

Crews prevented the fire from spreading, and within an hour, the blaze was extinguished. Firefighters continued to extinguish smaller fires scattered throughout the nearby brush. They remained at the scene for some time to make sure all embers were out to prevent reignition later.

“Thanks to the wind cooperating with us, we were able to have this thing out before it did any more damage,” Hooper said.

Hooper said access to the area was initially blocked off with several large boulders that would have prevented the brush trucks from gaining access to fight the fire, but thanks to an off-duty firefighter who arrived beforehand and moved the boulders with his truck, crews were able to start fire suppression efforts quickly.

The preliminary investigation revealed the fire started after the truck became stuck and the “check engine” light came on. Within a minute or so, the vehicle caught fire. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

No injuries were reported, and the vehicle was a total loss.

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

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