Fast-moving fire destroys SUV within minutes on I-15 in St. George

ST. GEORGE — Two escaped injury when a fire quickly engulfed an SUV on northbound Interstate 15 in St. George early Wednesday morning, an incident that caught the attention of several passing motorists – one of whom captured the blaze on video that was provided to St. George News.

White SUV catches fire on northbound Interstate 15 near the St. George Boulevard exit, St. George, Utah, Sept. 15, 2021 | Photo captured from video courtesy of Megan Juarez, St. George News

Shortly before 7:15 a.m., officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a vehicle fire reported on northbound I-15 just south of the St. George Boulevard Exit.

Officers arrived to find flames coming from the front of the SUV, and both occupants, who were able to pull over and exit the vehicle safety, were on the emergency shoulder waiting nearby.

St. George Fire Battalion Chief Darren Imlay told St. George News the fast-moving fire spread throughout the vehicle that was fully involved by the time fire crews arrived within minutes of the call.

“Within a minute or so of our arrival, the fire was extinguished,” he added.

Fire crews remained at the scene and continued to douse the vehicle with water to cool it down. Both occupants were able to escape any injuries, he said, while the SUV was destroyed by the blaze.

At the time of the incident, Imlay said, the driver pulled off the interstate when they noticed smoke billowing from the front of the vehicle.

Within minutes, after the occupants exited the vehicle, flames started shooting up from underneath the hood as the fire extended into the engine compartment, Imlay said, and  from there, the fire spread very quickly.

Imlay went on to say it can only take a few minutes for a fire to spread throughout a vehicle, depending on a number of variables that can  have an effect on how a fire behaves.

With newer vehicles, he said, manufacturers install a stronger firewall between the engine compartment and the interior of the car, in part, he said, to slow the fire’s spread. This is designed to allow for more time for the driver to pull over and the occupants to escape the blaze before it has a chance to spread to the interior of the car.

Imlay said there were no injuries reported during the incident on Wednesday, and an electrical issue is believed to have started the blaze.

The St. George Police Department, St. George Fire Department and Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team responded and tended to the scene.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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

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