Fireworks cause large brush fire close to homes on Black Hill

ST. GEORGE — Fireworks discharged outside the legal date range in a restricted area sparked a brush fire that burned through between 10 and 15 acres on Black Hill Sunday night.

A brush fire spreads on Black Hill, July 16, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Claudia Marysol Zaldivar, St. George News

St. George Fire Department responded to the blaze at approximately 8:45 p.m. on the hillside near Donlee Drive.

Watch video top of this report.

The fire quickly spread north and south, charring through thick brush and coming within about 100 yards of nearby houses, but it was suppressed before it could damage any of the structures.

Individuals lighting fireworks caused the fire, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said, adding that they were discharged in a restricted area and were not allowed on the current date.

Officers from St. George Police Department also responded and were actively investigating the crime at the time of the fire.

“It’s very frustrating,” Stoker said, referring to fires that he said could otherwise have been avoided. “There’s no common sense being used here. We’ve had some major fires throughout the state this year – the Brian Head Fire. We’ve had several here in town.”

A brush fire spreads on Black Hill, July 16, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The individuals who started the fire will face charges, Stoker said, adding that they could face steep fines for the suppression costs.

However, Stoker was unable to provide any information about a possible suspect or suspects at the time of this report.

“We will aggressively go after people that start fires, whether they’re using legal fireworks within date or not,” he said. “If you cause a fire, you will be cited and you will be charged the suppression cost. We just issued suppression costs we just had off Snow Canyon Parkway which was (sic) over $23,000.”

The fire on Black Hill was contained within about an hour and a half, but crews remained on the scene late into the night and early morning Monday mopping up hot spots.

“It did spread to the south, just north of the ‘D,’” Stoker said.

Crews contained the southern flank of the blazed before it reached the iconic D that is often lit up at night representing Dixie State University.

The fire also made it to the top of the hill near an access road, where it was quickly suppressed before descending down the western side.

A brush fire spreads on Black Hill, July 16, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Gusty winds swept through the area following a brief storm. The wind actually helped suppression efforts on the southern flank, Stoker said, pushing the fire into itself.

The scar left behind on the charred hillside will likely lead to complications for homeowners as rains begin to sweep through town.

“When you get those monsoon rains coming in, we’ll have mud slides.”

Stoker reiterated that all of this could have been avoided, noting that the fire department has run active campaigns to bring awareness to residents about the dangers of fireworks in periods of excessive heat.

“Use some common sense if you do fireworks. They’re restricted for a reason. Fires like this when they go up these hills travel very quickly and then spread rapidly.”

The fire is still under investigation at the time of this report.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • paul July 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Funny that he said this could of all been avoided he is so right. stop sell fireworks duh

  • paul July 17, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Pioneer Day should be a blast too let’s see what else we can burn up as if we haven’t had enough fires already this year should make the people selling the fireworks pay a fee, every one of them to help pay for fire cost (Future fire cost ) cause you know going to happen

  • hiker75 July 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I agree. Stop selling fireworks. Or, is shooting off fireworks a constitutional right too?

    • Real Life July 17, 2017 at 10:07 am

      We don’t need no dang outsiders tellin’ us what we can and can’t blow up here!

  • utahdiablo July 17, 2017 at 11:38 am

    At the very least we need to ban the sale and use of Aerial Fireworks, the legal use of the Aerial Fireworks has only been legal here for a few years, so repeal it now as how do you control where they fly to or land? You don’t and cannot……so until enough property is destroyed? It won’t happen, yet if the St George Temple was to burn down because of Fireworks, it would be banned in a heartbeat

  • DB July 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    First, the excavation scar, now the burn scar…Great.

  • madwhat July 18, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    The fact that people would do something like this is rediculous. There is a reason why rules are put in place. They aren’t there to make our lives boring. They are there to protect us from accidents like this one.
    Another this is that people should be considerate of those around them. How would you like it if some people started a fire by your house? Imagine if those firefighters hadn’t stopped the fire in time. Then what? Along with the burnt hillside, you’ll have a burned-down house and people who don’t have a place to stay

  • Icomments2 July 18, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I’m just curious as to why it has to be an Ariel to cause s fire??? I mean I have had some Safe and Sane ones go pretty high and if near dry brush well they can do some damage too!!! I’m not saying what these people did was good bit come on let’s use our brains here all fire works are danergous when there are stupid people in this world!!! And to sell fireworks where it is illegal to set them off should fall on the city or country that let’s them sell them in the first place!!! Greedy money hungry ______s!!!

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