Multiple agencies respond to rapidly spreading brush fire that causes home evacuations in Ivins

IVINS — Firefighters worked Tuesday afternoon to extinguish a brush fire that spread to two structures on Tuesday and caused home evacuations in Ivins. The blaze was propelled by high winds and fed by a vast amount of fuels.

The scene of a fire involving outbuildings in Ivins, Utah, May 19, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Corey Kealiher, St. George News

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., emergency personnel were dispatched to what was initially reported as a brush fire burning at a large property on 100 West in Ivins. Once on scene they realized the blaze was burning across the large property where two outbuildings and a home were located, Santa Clara/Ivins Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Hancey said.

Santa Clara-Ivins firefighters arrived and began fighting the blaze. They were soon joined by St. George Fire crews that arrived with two engines and provided mutual aid as the flames began spreading carried by a strong breeze.

All occupants on the property had evacuated before fire crews arrived, Hancey said, and the homes located adjacent to the property and those across the street were evacuated by Santa Clara-Ivins Police officers who went door to door to make sure everyone got out safely.

An entire block of 100 West was cordoned off to allow enough room for the 14 fire trucks, engines and other firefighting apparatus that responded and lined the street. Officers were also stationed at various intersections nearby to redirect traffic away from the large scene. Santa Clara-Ivins Police Chief Robert Flowers was also on hand to assist.

The breeze kicked up and became a fairly strong wind as the fire progressed. Making matters worse, Hancey said, the vast amount of bamboo growing along the property lines was very dry; once it ignited, it fueled the blaze that rapidly continued spreading further across the large property.

The scene of a fire involving outbuildings in Ivins, Utah, May 19, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Corey Kealiher, St. George News

Along with brush and vegetation, there were also tanks of Freon and other materials that began exploding when the temperature reached a point where the tanks began to burst.

“It was very loud during the fire,” Hancey said. “With the tanks bursting and wind, it created a great deal of noise.”

Fortunately, he said, a short while later the winds changed direction and began pushing the the fire back into itself, which slowed the progression of the blaze.

Additionally, the variety and amount of materials burning created thick, black plumes of smoke that could be seen as far away as Bloomington.

The fire continued to burn within a few feet of the residence located near the center of the large property, but firefighters were able to contain it before it had a chance to spread to the structure itself. There were two other outbuildings on the property that did not fare as well, Hancey said, and both sustained extensive fire damage.

The scene of a fire involving outbuildings in Ivins, Utah, May 19, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Corey Kealiher, St. George News

After fighting the blaze for nearly two hours the flames were extinguished and the mop-up stage was initiated with fire crews going over the area in search of hot spots or embers that could reignite and start a secondary fire at a later time.

The investigation into the cause of the blaze revealed it was the sparks from an angle-grinder that is believed to have ignited the blaze, Santa Clara-Ivins Police Sgt. Reed Briggs said.

He said workers were running the agricultural equipment when the sparks caught a patch of brush on fire that started small and then spread very quickly.

Briggs said as temperatures across the region continue to climb, it is even more important to use extreme caution when using equipment or any other machinery outdoors, as it can spark or possibly malfunction and then start a blaze that can spread very quickly, similar to what had happened during Tuesday’s fire.

No injuries were reported.

Multiple agencies provided mutual aid to Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue including the St. George Fire, Dammeron Valley Fire District, the Bureau of Land Management and Enterprise Fire Department.

This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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

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