Home near Mall Drive nearly destroyed, family displaced when fire tears through structure

ST. GEORGE — A home was nearly destroyed in an early morning structure fire Thursday that sent flames shooting out of the roof as multiple fire engines arrived and lined the street off Mall Drive Thursday.

Multiple engines respond to structure fire reported at a residence on 40 North off Mall Drive that started on the deck, St. George, Utah, May 7, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly after 4:30 a.m. firefighters and officers were dispatched to 40 North near the corner of 2060 East on a structure fire involving a residence where several areas of the home were fully involved in fire.

“The fire was already burning through the attic for some time by the time we got the call,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

The family was asleep at the time the fire started and was able to safely evacuate the home before the fire department arrived on scene minutes later, he said.

One of the police officers said when he arrived on scene all four occupants were already outside, and he confirmed there were no other occupants still inside of the home.

Fire crews arrived and initiated a defensive attack, which is an exterior attack used when fighting the fire from within the structure poses too great of a risk. Efforts are focused on mitigating the spread of the fire to nearby homes.

Firefighters doused the flames shooting from the roof as the home’s windows began to blow out from the heat melting the frames, and Ladder 21 extended its 100-foot ladder equipped with a hose to fight the fire from above.

Fire crews entered the home and began fighting the flames. After more than 45 minutes the active flames were extinguished and firefighters sifted through the debris and deployed a thermal imaging camera that uses infrared radiation that allows crews to detect heat through heavy smoke or in complete darkness.

Fire rips through home and burns through roof on 40 North off Mall Drive that started on the deck, St. George, Utah, May 7, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Firefighters continued removing insulation and material as they checked the area for hot spots or extensions of the fire that were not readily visible but could potentially reignite and cause a secondary fire.

The fire appeared to have started on the back deck of the residence, Stoker said, and once it burned through the awning it quickly spread into the attic where it burned through the eves “very quickly.” It burned through the roof and destroyed it. The cause has not yet been determined, Stoker said.

He said the family will not be able to return to the home because of the extensive fire, smoke and water damage, and the American Red Cross will be contacted once authorities are able to speak to the tenants to determine if they will need temporary housing or other resources.

There was also a dog inside of the home when the fire started. Stoker said they have not yet found the animal, but it may have escaped the house at the same time as the family.

Firefighters were still on the scene when St. George News arrived, and they will remain at the scene for several more hours conducting an overhaul of the fire, which entails walls, ceilings or any other voids to check for any remaining embers or flames that would have extended from the garage into other areas not readily visible.

Gold Cross Ambulance remained at the scene to treat any injuries to either firefighters or civilians.

The St. George Fire Department responded with five engines and a ladder truck, while several police officers were dispatched to secure the scene and make sure all occupants were evacuated.

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

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