UPDATED: Man dies from medical condition as crews battle 49-acre Apple Fire

Smoke can be seen billowing from human caused Apple Fire that burned 49 acres and damaged one home just west of Apple Valley in Washington County, Utah, June 8, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Mike Melton, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man rescued from an outbuilding Monday evening died from an unrelated medical emergency as fire crews battled a blaze that burned nearly 50 acres in Apple Valley.

Update June 9, 3:10 p.m. Fire managers report that the fire is 100% contained as of Tuesday afternoon.

Smoke is visible from Hurricane of the Apple Fire just west of Apple Valley, Washington County, Utah, June 8, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

The blaze, dubbed the Apple Fire, was reported shortly before 7:30 p.m. in an area 2 miles west of Apple Valley just south of state Route 59. The fire was being fueled by dry grass and brush. Fire crews from multiple agencies responded with a dozen engines, three water tenders, a bulldozer and two single-engine air tankers to battle the blaze.

Mike Melton, the area management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, told St. George News that at the time of the blaze, some passersby saw smoke from a partially engulfed outbuilding near a residence and found a man inside who was suffering from some type of medical condition.

They called 911 as they helped the man into their truck, Melton said, and were headed toward the hospital when they intercepted the responding ambulance. But at some point along the way, the man died from a medical emergency that Melton said was unrelated to the fire.

The death is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, crews continued battling the blaze, which threatened five homes and left one damaged as it burned 49 acres.

By 10:30 p.m., the fire was 10% contained. Crews were able to extinguish the active flames by Tuesday morning and remained at the scene, where they continued the “mopping up,” Melton said, which is the process of looking for smoke or hot spots in what otherwise looks like a cold area. Firefighters then drench any remaining flames and remove burning material near the control lines as they stir and drown any hot areas that are still smoldering.

Melton said there are also “large trees in the area of the wash that are still holding a lot of heat,” which means longer work days for the crews still at the scene.

With no lightning or storms reported in the area, authorities have concluded that the blaze was “definitely human caused,” Melton said, and they are working on determining the exact cause.

He also said that cooler temperatures and low winds were instrumental in slowing the spread of the blaze.

Crews from the Apple Valley Fire Department, Hurricane Valley Fire District, Hildale-Colorado City Fire Department, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service responded to the fire.

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

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