IVINS — What started out as fueling up a sport utility vehicle and a travel trailer in preperation for another traveling adventure ended up becoming a fiery inferno in the driveway for an Ivins resident Wednesday afternoon.
The fire, at the home in the cul-de-sac of Ridgeview Circle in Ivins, fully engulfed the SUV and the fifth-wheel trailer and threatened the resident’s home. However, Santa Clara-Ivins firefighters managed to corral the resilient fire utilizing a variety of methods, including fire-retardant foam and the Jaws of Life, which were used to break apart the vehicle to get to the sources of flame.
While the SUV and travel trailer were total losses, the fire was limited to the driveway despite the back of the combined vehicles being just outside the open garage, which contained a BMW convertible.
“We had our work cut out for us today,” Santa Clara/Ivins Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Hancey said, adding that the firefighters raced to keep other consumables from igniting including two propane tanks between the SUV and trailer, items in the garage and the home itself. “There’s a lot of stuff in there; obviously, that could have gone bad.”
While no injuries were reported, Hancey said there were some initial scary moments for the resident when he first noticed the smoke.
Hancey said the vehicle owner had just filled his vehicle “all the way up to the max” with gasoline to set out on a trip. Sitting in the driver’s seat, he smelled some smoke. Opening the rear hatch of the SUV, he said he saw smoke come out, which appeared to be emanating from near the fuel spout.
Then, to the owner’s alarm, he noticed the paintwork starting to blister, Hancey said.
By the time firefighters from Santa Clara/Ivins Station 31 arrived, the SUV and the front portion of the travel trailer were fully engulfed in flames, obscuring the vehicles themselves.
“Initially, we were pretty concerned as … the trailer caught fire, the garage door is open and it was going in that direction, right from the front of that trailer,” Hancey said. “We didn’t want it to get in the house or into the garage.”
The smell of burning metal, magnesium, gasoline and rubber filled the air as the Station 31 engine was soon joined by two engines and firefighters from Station 32 – as well as support from Santa Clara/Ivins Police, who closed off the street.
The main combustible was the 26 gallons of gasoline that had just fueled up the SUV. The flames were quelled down into a carpet of flame under the SUV. However, with a lot of fuel to burn, each time firefighters seemed to get an upper hand with water and foam retardant, the flames would come back dancing like a phoenix out of the water below.
“When we’re dealing with the fuel, the vehicle keeps reigniting,” Hancey said. “We were trying to get to it, put foam on it, but there was 26 gallons of fuel.”
To aid in this effort, firefighters utilized the Jaws of Life, tearing apart the hot metal of the SUV like a can.
“That’s so we can get access to the different parts of the vehicle underneath, you know, the tires and the frame and everything right down to the concrete driveway,” Hancey said.
While the home was threatened, Hancey said none of the neighboring homes were at risk as the fire was contained to the one driveway, though there were some fears of the plentiful gasoline going down the block, as a stream of water went down Ridgeview Circle from the firefighters’ hoses.
While still under investigation, the resident indicated an electrical short started the fire.
After nearly an hour and a half of work, the fire was put out just after 4 p.m. The SUV was nothing more than jangled metal and the fifth-wheel gutted out.
But while there would be no travel-trailer trip and a total loss of the vehicles for the resident, the home was untouched by the fire.
“It was pretty well contained,” Hancey said.
St. George News reporter David Dudley contributed to this story.
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