Fire torches home in downtown St. George

Fire crews respond to a fire on Main Street in St. George, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Firefighters responded to a house fire in downtown St. George Saturday afternoon. While no one was harmed in the blaze, the home itself has been rendered uninhabitable.

The St. George Fire Department responded to the report of a fire at 135 South Main St. around 3:30 p.m., St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said. The call was made by a neighbor or passerby who also apparently alerted the people inside the home.

Pam Dewitt, the homeowner, was asleep inside the home when she was awakened by beeping smoke alarms and someone banging on the front door. She was able to get out of the house with a pet parrot and dog in tow, but her cat remained inside the home after running under her bed. Firefighters didn’t allow her to go back inside for the cat.

Running out of the burning house in a hurry, Dewitt was only able to make it out with her animals and the clothes she wore. “No clothes, nothing. Everything’s in the house,” she said.

While speaking to St. George News, firefighters found Dewitt’s cat alive and reunited the two.

Dewitt said she may be able to stay with her mother, but can’t take her dog with her if she does.

She also has two roommates who live in the downstairs portion of the home who are currently out of town, she said.

As for the cause of the fire, Dewitt said it apparently started in the back, but had no idea what started it.

The fire started on the back patio and spread up into the house through the back bedroom windows and also up into the attic, Stoker said. Fire crews were able to put the patio fire out relatively quickly. The attic was a different matter.

Due to previous remodels of the home, the building has two ceilings, Stoker said. When fire crews broke through the original ceiling, there was nothing there, so they had to break through the next ceiling to actually get to the blaze.

It was very time intensive,” Stoker said.

In order to keep the fire from spreading toward the front of the home, firefighters made a trench cut in the roof in order to draw the fire out. Additional, smaller cuts were made in other parts of the roof to aid in venting the fire. The move worked and stopped the blaze from progressing.

The fire was out by 5:30 p.m. During the operation, the St. George Fire Department called for additional manpower from the Washington City Fire Department which provided an additional fire engine and fire crew.

“There’s pretty extensive damage to the back, then those back bedrooms and up into the attic,” Stoker said. “There’s quite a bit of fire damage. Its not inhabitable right now.

The Red Cross was on scene to render aid to the homeowner and others as needed.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this point, but the fire department is investigating. “It looks accidental. Nothing suspicious that we can pinpoint,” Stoker said.

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