UPDATED: Fire erupts from $3 million home in St. George gated community

ST. GEORGE —A fire at an approximated $3 million home in a gated community of St. George that erupted Wednesday afternoon brought out multiple fire trucks from several fire agencies as smoke and flames shot into the sky.

Flames erupt from home in Chaco Bench gated community, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The fire, which was reported just after 2 p.m., sent dark smoke and flames out of the home at 2323 N. Chaco Trail within the Chaco Bench gate community.

Firefighters said the fire proved to be difficult to fight for three reasons: A large distance from the street didn’t allow for the use of ladder trucks, the home itself had many corridors and a spacious attic, and the excessive heat warning temperatures of around 109 degrees proved exhausting for firefighters. 

“This has been kind of challenging to get up to the home due to the 300-foot driveway,” St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.  “A ton of hidden compartments in the attic space made it really challenging.”

The home did not have a sprinkler system, and nobody was home at the time, Hooper said. 

Neighbors said the owners of the home are away on a trip to Europe, and while Gold Cross Ambulance was on the scene, firefighters confirmed no one was home and there were no additional injuries among firefighters.

According to Zillow, the home is a 6,529-square-foot, six-bedroom home valued at between $2.54 and 3.88 million.

He added when fire units arrived, the entire home was filled with smoke, but the blaze itself started in the garage. 

Flames erupt from home in Chaco Bench gated community, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“That’s where the majority of the fire was and then it burned an intensive push through the firewall into the rest of the house,” Hooper said. 

Also a challenge was the heat. Firefighters were taking 15-minute shifts on, 15 minutes off to fight the fire. Some firefighters were seen behind their engine pouring water on their faces. 

There were 14 units on the scene. While a majority were from St. George Fire, units also arrived to assist from Santa Clara/Ivins, Washington City, Hurricane and Dammeron Valley. 

The units included three ladder trucks, but they were of little use. Firefighters said because of the distance of the home from the street – about 40 yards from the curb up a 20-foot embankment – any water from the ladders would reach the house like a sprinkled rain.

That left firefighters to take to the rooftop.

“They pulled up to the ceilings in the main part of the house to access the fire and they cut holes in the roof,” Hooper said, which was part of the difficulty of getting to all the small corners of the attic space.

While the dark smoke had turned to mostly light gray by just after 3 p.m., occasional flames sprouting up among the firefighters on the roof showed that any handle the firefighters had on the fire was punctuated by spurts of flames.

Just as firefighters seemed to get a handle on the fire, black smoke would rise up from another corner of the attic and ended up spreading across the house. 

A semblance of control was in place by 5 p.m. and by 5:30 p.m., some units began to leave.

This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Updated 6:28 p.m., information about the details of the fire and interviews with firefighters has been added.

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