Natural firebreaks help contain Santa Clara brush fire ignited by grinding metal

A brush fire in Santa Clara causes damage to a backhoe bucket, Santa Clara, Utah, June 22, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Personnel from the Santa Clara-Ivins Fire Department responded to a brush fire on Chapel Drive in Santa Clara Monday afternoon.

According to Santa Clara-Ivins Fire Chief Randy Hancey, personnel responded at around 12:30 p.m. to the property of a residence where the owner had been making repairs on some personal equipment.

He had a backhoe and a bucket,” Hancey said, adding that the owner was grinding some metal and the sparks caught the dry weeds on fire.

“It’s not a very smart thing to do, grinding and welding during the hot season,” Hancey said. “A lot of fires are started that way.”

Hancey said fire crews and the owner were fortunate that the area had three natural firebreaks – the property’s driveway, a relatively new road and a large open trench – that helped to keep the fire contained.

A brush fire causes damage to a power meter box in Santa Clara, Utah, June 22, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Daytime fires like Monday’s make the department extra nervous, Hancey said, because they are still largely a volunteer crew and they have to rely on personnel who can respond in the middle of the day. Hancey added that they do have a dedicated wildland crew, but most of them are currently working in Arizona on the Mangum Fire.

There was no damage to any structures, but the property did contain a power meter box that melted and damaged some wiring, Hancey said. The city cut off the power connection to the residence until the damage can be assessed by an electrician.

“There was a lot of heat out there,” Hancey said.

Fire personnel remained on scene until about 3 p.m. to mop everything up and make sure all the hot spots were out, Hancey said.

No citations were issued to the homeowner; however, Hancey cautioned again that welding and grinding are not advisable during the high summer temperatures and that there are county and city fire restrictions in place.

Hancey said residents need to know they can be held responsible for fire suppression costs and there may have been a citation if the fire had gone farther or caused damage to any structures.

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

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