Lightning strike suspected in early-morning house fire

ST. GEORGE – Fire officials suspect a lightning strike may be the cause of a fire that consumed a home in St. George early Sunday morning.

The St. George Fire Department responded on report of a house that was engulfed in flames on Rivers Edge Lane in the Sunbrook area around 4:40 a.m., St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

The St. George Fire Department responds to an early-morning fire on Rivers Edge Lane in the Sunbrook area of St. George. While no one was injured in the fire, the home is considered a complete loss, St. George, Utah, April 8, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As the house is a second home for a family that resides in Salt Lake City, no one was home at the time the fire ignited, which allowed it to spread through the main level of the structure.

“Where no one was home, the fire got well-established,” Stoker said.

Neighbors started calling 911 when they were awakened by the sound of breaking glass caused by the fire and began to see smoke and flames coming from the roof and windows.

“We took a defensive stance on the fire,” Stoker said, referring to firefighters working to ensure the fire didn’t spread. “Our main concern was protecting the structures on both sides of the home and extinguishing the fire.”

The firefighters put the fire out from the outside inward as they blasted the blaze with fire hoses and truck-mounted water cannons. Stoker said he was hesitant to send firefighters into the home due to worries over the structure’s integrity.

The aftermath of an early-morning fire on Rivers Edge Lane in the Sunbrook area of St. George. While no one was injured in the fire, the home is considered a complete loss, St. George, Utah, April 8, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The fire appeared to have caused the most damage to the kitchen and living room area, Stoker said, though overall, the main level of the home looked like it was gutted by the fire. Some damage was also caused to the home’s walkout basement, he said.

The home is considered a total loss with damages estimated to be between $300,000 and $500,000.

The homeowners have been contacted and are heading to St. George to see what’s left, Stoker said.

While the cause of the fire was initially unknown, Stoker said fire investigators suspect lightning may have struck the home during Saturday’s storm.

Neighbors told firefighters they believe lightning had struck the area, which also aligns with the location of a possible strike on a lightning map, Stoker said.

Lightning is also considered a possibility due to the origin of the fire appearing to be in the attic.

The Fire Department responded with two ladder trucks, six fire engines, a heavy rescue truck and 25-30 personnel.

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire.

This report is based on statements from emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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Posted in Flood and Fire, Local, NewsTagged , ,

6 Comments

  • ScanMeister April 9, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Wonder what is so attractive to lightning about that area. Man struck on golf coarse not far from there too last month.

  • Sparky April 9, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Bummer

  • comments April 9, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    “While the cause of the fire was initially unknown, Stoker said fire investigators suspect lightning may have struck the home during Saturday’s storm.”

    Isn’t lightning kind of loud when it strikes close by. Did anyone report hearing that? It almost sounds like a wild guess, similar to the mythical “electrical fire”.

    • Mean Momma April 10, 2018 at 4:02 am

      I live right down the street from this home and being a mom, I am a super light sleeper, and I heard nothing. Earlier in the evening when the storm passed through, we had a lightning strike that hit very, very close to our home but did no damage that I am aware of. There have been way too many strikes in this area recently.

    • Anon April 10, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I believe them on this one. If you look at the grass on the photo of the lawn, you can make out the spiderweb-like burns that lightning causes. I know that there was a lightning strike quite close to that area on Saturday. Perhaps it started a fire that smoldered until it was able to catch…

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