ST. GEORGE — Smoldering insulation led to an attic engulfed in flames early Tuesday morning, displacing a family and leaving significant damage in its wake.

St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker told St. George News they received a call shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday about a house fire at the 100 South block of 2000 East. The residents of the single-family home said they smelled smoke and could hear what they thought was a fire burning in the attic, the chief said. All occupants were able to evacuate safely before crews arrived.

“They smelled smoke, evacuated and called 911,” Stoker said. “Just like them, don’t ever have a delay in calling in an emergency, even if you don’t think it’s much. We would rather come out and check those things and make sure everything’s safe rather than have a delay.”

When the St. George Fire Department arrived on the scene, they used attic access from the garage to locate the fire. Crews pulled most of the ceiling down in the front room and bedroom areas of the home to remove burning insulation, the chief said. St. George’s Energy Services Department responded to the scene and cut power to the home.

Crews were able to cover items with tarps before pulling the ceiling down to protect the home’s interior items and furnishings. 

A file photo shows the St. George Fire Department engine stopped in front of a house, St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2024 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Stoker said one of the issues fire crews see regularly is the use of cellulose insulation, which is mainly comprised of ground paper, such as newspaper or cardboard. While it’s great insulation for its purpose, he said, it also smolders and burns easily.

“It appears this had been smoldering for quite a while in the attic,” he said. “We did end up needing to cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the smoke and gases. With the ceilings being down, they’ll be displaced for some time.”

Stoker said the family has a place to stay until they can work with their insurance company.

The initial cause of the fire appears to be from electrical lines but is currently under investigation, the chief said. 

With many people using heating devices to escape the winter cold, Stoker stressed the importance of providing adequate clearance around hot items such as space heaters and fireplaces and maintaining appliances per the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

“If you have questions on your heat appliances or anything related to that, don’t be afraid to call your local fire department and ask questions,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. I’d rather take those up front and come out and assist with anything rather than respond to a fire.” 

St. George Fire Department, Gold Cross Ambulance, St. George Police Department and St. George’s Energy Services Department responded to the fire.

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

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