Authorities say cliffside fire was likely human caused

St. George Firefighters return from the hillside above the Southgate Townhomes after putting out a small brush fire. While there was little worry about the fire reaching homes, there was some concern over the fire potentially impacting a power line nearby before being put out, St. George, Utah, April 6, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A cliffside brush fire next to Interstate 15 on Tuesday evening triggered multiple emergency calls for an incident that is believed to have been human caused.

The St. George Fire Department was alerted to the fire on the cliffside above the Southgate Townhomes off Sir Monte Drive around 8 p.m. The location also put the fire above southbound I-15 just south of the Dixie Drive/Exit 5 interchange, making it highly visible to passersby.

“We got a lot of calls,” St. George Battalion Chief Darren Imlay told St. George News.

Estimated to reach about a half-acre in size, the fire had grown slowly by the time firefighters arrived, Imlay said. On the south side of the cliff, the fire was burning into the rocks and beginning to burn itself out due to a lack of fuel.

On the north side, which was burning toward Southgate Townhomes, firefighters were able to get the fire contained and extinguished pretty quickly, Imlay said, adding that a rock wall built between the hillside and townhomes also helped keep the fire from getting too far.

“We were nervous about a large power line on a wooden pole that was in that area,” Imlay said. “That would be a major problem if we lost that pole.”

Responding staff with the St. George Energy Services Department said the line feeds power to that part of the city and would have left it dark if knocked out.

Despite any initial worries, the fire was contained by 8:30 p.m.

Some of the parties that originally reported the fire to authorities said they saw a man running from the area toward Sir Monte Drive. The incident remains under investigation at this time.

While cool temperatures and a lack of wind helped keep the fire from spreading, Imlay remarked that is was likely to be a busy fire season due to the extreme dryness caused by the ongoing drought.

The majority of wildfire that occurred in Washington County and Utah overall last year were reported to be human-caused.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!