Fire in Veyo started by boy playing with army men and a lighter threatens 3 structures

Stock photo. | Photo by Sebastian Pociecha/Unsplash, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A fire in the southwest corner of Veyo was reported just before 5 p.m. on Friday.

Northwestern Special Service District firefighter Frank Bistolfo sprays water on hot spots following a small brush fire near Veyo, Washington County, Utah, Aug. 25, 2017 | Photo by Nakavius Jacks, St. George News

Upon investigation of the fire, it was started by a child who was playing with army men and a lighter. He was trying to use fire as a tool when it sparked the flames and threatened three structures.

Units from Central, Veyo, Brookside and the Washington County Sheriff’s office were on scene. There were a total of 20 firefighters at its peak with firefighters from Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, as well as firefighters from the Utah bureau of land management and the Arizona bureau of land management. Mike Melton, Fire management officer for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, described it as a good interagency response.

“The big take-home message here is, parents need to keep an eye on their kids,” Melton said. “They need to put the matches and the lighters out of their reach.”

Melton stressed that they were lucky the winds were not bad or the fire could have spread further. He also referenced a larger fire that happened in the same spot in 2006, which burned 90 acres.

Melton encouraged people to work on their defensible space and to be cautious while using power equipment and lighting recreational fires.

“If it’s wind, hot and the humidity is low, don’t do it,” Melton said. “Don’t do anything out in the brush and in the grass.”

Undated photo illustration. | Photo by Liljaphoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

It has been extremely dry and Melton said it is just going to get dryer. Residents can expect above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. Melton also mentioned that those who are social distancing in the woods need to make sure they extinguish their campfires and barbecues completely.

If fires are not left completely extinguished, the wind can kick up those embers and residue from the flames that could ignite brush. The brush has been heightened as a result of a wet spring last year and a wet April this year.

Melton confirmed the burn season unofficially ended Friday. Volunteer fire chief Steve Haluska confirmed it as well, with local fire departments taking down burn permit applications through their website.

“Any kind of debris burning in Washington County still has to be by permit only but good luck getting a permit,” Melton said.

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