ST. GEORGE — An older man died in a fire that broke out Tuesday night in an apartment off Bluff Street that brought more than a dozen fire engines, trucks and patrol vehicles to the scene of a blaze.
The fire was reported shortly after 8:30 p.m. at an apartment complex on the corner of 500 South and Bluff Street. It left one unit nearly destroyed and three other units damaged. A passerby saw smoke coming from the complex and called 911 to report the blaze.
St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker told St. George News at the scene there was one fatality reported, a man in his 70s who was the sole occupant of the unit when it caught fire. The man was found deceased inside.
The fire was extinguished quickly, and crews then began the task of checking for extensions of the fire. St. George Police detectives and an assistant Utah State Fire Marshal responded to the scene to assist St. George Fire Department investigators in determining the cause and origin of the fire, Stoker said, as well as any other factors that may have been involved.
Stoker said the blaze started in an area near the front of the apartment and then burned through the front door and continued spreading across the front porch where it caught the overhang on fire. One of the units located directly to the right of the burning apartment was also damaged when the flames burned through one of the shared walls.
The apartment complex was built before firewalls were required to be installed between each of the units, Stoker said. The firewalls are designed to slow the spread of the fire and provide additional time to initiate suppression efforts, which in turn can be effective in reducing the extent of the damage.
The neighboring unit was further damaged when firefighters had to break through the drywall and ceiling area to completely extinguish the blaze before it was able to spread to the entire unit, and the two ground-level apartments below sustained primarily water damage that came through the ceiling.
The American Red Cross also responded to the scene to provide temporary housing or other resources which may be needed by any of the tenants affected by the fire.
Officers cordoned off a three-block area of 500 South for nearly two hours to allow responders to tend to the scene. Fire crews remained on scene for more than an hour checking for any burning embers that could reignite the fire at a later time and cleared the scene shortly after 10 p.m., while investigators remained to conduct the investigation.
As of publication of this report, the cause is still undetermined and under investigation.
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