WASHINGTON – A small quickly-moving brush fire was sparked on the side of Interstate 15 Monday temporarily shutting down northbound traffic.
Cesar Flores, a resident of the Washington Heights trailer court, said he heard an explosion around 5:30 p.m. on I-15 and went outside to check it out. Flores’ home is next to the fence that separates the trailer court from a brush-covered stretch of land running along northbound I-15 near milepost 9. He said that when he saw a small brush fire starting by the side of the road which rapidly began to spread, he called 911 and grabbed a garden hose.
“I had my phone in one hand and the hose in the other hand,” he said.
The Washington City Fire Department responded to the scene and began to combat the fire that spread quickly along the shoulder of the road and covered a length of 300-400 feet. The fire also burned toward the fence, coming within 15 feet of Flores’ home, among others.
While the fire was dealt with, both travel lanes on I-15 were shutdown and traffic began to back up. However, the travel lanes were reopened by 6:20 p.m. after the fire was largely extinguished. The Exit 10 off-ramp was also closed for a short time.
Washington City Fire Chief Brent Hafen said the cause of the fire wasn’t wholly determined at the time, though initial reports stated a truck passing by had sparked the fire either by blowing a tire or backfiring.
“Any little thing like that will start (a fire),” Hafen said.
He also said a reason the fire spread so fast was because of the fuel available, brush and numerous tumble weeds, which burn fast and hot. It also didn’t help that there was a good breeze blowing too.
“When there’s a wind and dry stuff on the ground,” Hafen said, “(the fire) comes right on top of you.”
Hafen also said he advises homeowners not to attempt to save their homes if a fire gets too close, and to evacuate instead. “Your life’s worth more,” he said.
Todd Abbott of the Utah Department of Transportation was also on hand during the fire and said work crews would be along to dispose of the fire-bait of dry brush and tumble weeds that covers the side of the road.
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