ST. GEORGE — Crews, engines and ladder trucks from multiple departments responded Thursday to a structure fire at a storage facility in Washington City – a blaze that spread to at least five of the units and sent heavy smoke billowing from the building.
Shortly before noon, a fire was reported at Bear River Storage, a storage unit facility on South Sandhill Road, where multiple engines and ladder trucks responded to fight the blaze that by then had spread to five of the storage units, Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams told St. George News.
The facility’s management team called 911 to report the blaze when they saw smoke coming from under the eaves in one of buildings that housed at least 15 storage units.
Fire crews arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from a number of the units as they began an aggressive attack on the quickly spreading fire fueled by a significant amount of items stored in the units.
The St. George Fire Department and Hurricane Valley Fire District also sent engines and crews to assist in suppression efforts, while officers with the Washington City Police Department were also called in to cordon off South Sandhill Road to prevent traffic from accessing the street lined by fire engines and ladder trucks.
Crews continued battling the blaze for nearly two hours and were still on scene to begin mop-up operations, a process that is expected to continue for several hours to ensure that any burning embers are completely extinguished to prevent a reignition later.
St. George Fire also sent the department’s squad truck that contains oxygen and supplies for the fire crews as they battled the blaze in triple-digit temperatures.
Williams said the preliminary investigation revealed the fire likely started in one of the large air-conditioning units located on the roof of one of the buildings used to maintain temperature control.
When the unit overheated, it caught fire and the flames then spread from the roof to the eves above the units. From there, it continued extending into several of the units, which Williams said has more to do with the general construction design of most storage facilities where the units are spaced so closely together with only a thin wall separating them.
As such, firefighters often have to cut through the walls and make entry into the unit to extinguish the flames, which in many cases causes additional damage above and beyond what was caused by the blaze.
Additionally, he said, there were the five units in the initial report that were destroyed by the blaze, and the most recent assessment revealed there were another 10-15 units that sustained both severe water and smoke damage. The estimated losses have yet to be determined.
At least five of the units were heavily damaged in the blaze, a number that could rise once investigators are able to access the entire building to assess the damage.
No injuries to either civilians or firefighters were reported, Williams said.
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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