Family displaced after fire ignites in kitchen of unoccupied home

ST. GEORGE — A host of emergency responders and fire engines were dispatched to a structure fire after neighbors observed smoke coming from a residence off of Mall Drive and called 911.

A battalion of engines, a heavy rescue truck, ambulance and Ladder 21 respond to a residential structure fire off of Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, March 24, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly before 1 p.m., emergency crews were dispatched to the 400 block of North 240 East off of Mall Drive on a structure fire after neighbors called 911 reporting smoke coming from the kitchen area of the home.

“The neighbors knocked on the door of the home, and when they didn’t get any answer, they called into emergency dispatch to report it,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

The initial engine arrived to find smoke billowing from the roof vents while crews searched through the smoke, which by then filled the residence. Responders found the home to be unoccupied at the time.

Meanwhile, firefighters found active flames smoldering in the kitchen area that had extended into the cupboards and up through the vent into the attic, Stoker said.

“A majority of the fire was in the attic above the kitchen and garage area and actually spread through the attic towards the back of the home where the bedrooms are located,” he said.

After extinguishing the flames, fire crews began removing ceiling material and insulation as they checked the area for hot spots or fire extensions that were not readily visible but could potentially reignite and cause a secondary fire at a later time.

Ladder 21 was also on scene with its 100-foot ladder that was extended up toward the middle of the roof area. It was equipped with a water line for fire suppression and also provided firefighters inspecting the roof with an extended view of the entire area.

Soot is visible from the roof vent where heavy smoke billowed from the attic during a residential structure fire off of Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, March 24, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The homeowners were contacted and arrived as firefighting efforts were underway and were updated by fire officials at the scene.

The damage to the home was extensive, Stoker said, as crews had to take most of the ceiling down and remove the material to gain access to the flames and smoldering insulation. A number of trusses supporting the roof were also damaged or destroyed by the flames.

The fire was caused by either unattended cooking or the stove being left on. The damage caused by the fire could exceed $100,000.

All utilities to the home were disconnected as a safety precaution, Stoker said. And due to the extensive damage to the structure, the family will not be able to reside in the home.

Typically, the American Red Cross is contacted to provide emergency shelter and provisions to those displaced by fires. In this case, however, the residents are going to stay with family members living in the area until repairs to the home are completed.

No injuries were reported.

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

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