‘It was a very close call’; Family with 3 children narrowly escapes fast-moving house fire

In this January 2020 file photo, crews battle a structure fire on Lauritzen Street using pre-connected water line on fire engine, Colorado City, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A family of five, including three children, was transported to the hospital after narrowly escaping a fast-moving house fire Thursday morning in Colorado City, Arizona, that destroyed a large two-story home and left the family displaced. 

A fire burns through a two-story residence on Lauritzen Street where a family of five narrowly escaped in the middle of the night, Colorado City, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department, St. George News

Shortly before 1 a.m., the Hildale/ Colorado City Fire Department was dispatched to the residence where initial reports indicated that a family of five was still trapped inside, Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said, adding that Hurricane Valley Fire District was also called in to provide mutual aid due to the severity of the fire and size of the home. 

When the first engines arrived, firefighters found flames shooting out of five upstairs windows and a large section of the attic fully involved in flames. All five family members were located outside of the residence suffering from smoke inhalation.  

Shortly before the fire department’s arrival, the homeowner awoke to heavy smoke that was quickly filling the two-story residence, Barlow said, and he ran to wake his three children and guided them through the thick smoke and heat.

The father ran back into the burning house to find his wife collapsed on the hallway floor, but by then the front door that provided an escape minutes earlier was completely blocked by flames, making any attempt at a safe exit impossible.

Instead, the man was able to pull his wife out of the home using a stairway to the rear of the residence.

“It was a very close call for this family,” Barlow said.

Engine crews mounted an aggressive attack on the blaze upon arrival using a fire line that is pre-connected to the engine’s onboard water supply and deploys quickly, while the family was loaded into a number of ambulances and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. 

Firefighters respond to a structure fire at a residence on Lauritzen Street in Colorado City, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department, St. George News

With the engine’s fire line dousing the flames from the exterior, firefighters were able to enter the structure and extinguish the active flames while cooling down any remaining hot spots that continued to smolder, Barlow said – suppression efforts that would continued for several hours. 

With the help of multiple firefighters and additional equipment, the blaze was contained and followed up by the overhaul phase that would continue well into the morning.

The blaze caused severe damage to the structure, Barlow said, and nearly all of the furnishings and the family’s personal belongings were destroyed by the smoke and flames, leaving the family with little more than what they were wearing when they evacuated the home. The American Red Cross was contacted to provide temporary assistance and resources while other accommodations were arranged. 

Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Barlow said it appears to have started in the vicinity of a wood burning stove.

Firefighters remained on scene for more than six hours, leaving one engine there to watch for embers that could reignite and cause a secondary fire at a later time.

Three trucks and engines from Hurricane Valley Fire District provided mutual aid assistance while the Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department responded with two engines, two ladder trucks, a heavy rescue truck, two ambulances and other support units. 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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