Airport employees subdue fire after ‘careless smoker’ tosses cigarette butt into shrubbery – St George News

ST. GEORGE — St. George Regional Airport employees jumped into action and extinguished a small fire that broke out in the parking lot after someone improperly discarded a cigarette butt.

A small fire broke out at St. George Regional Airport after someone threw a cigarette butt into the landscaping, St. George, Utah, June 12, 2022 | Reader-submitted photo, St. George News

Shortly after 5 pm, flames consumed landscape shrubbery after a “careless smoker” tossed their cigarette butt into the brush in an airport parking lot, Airport Manager Richard Stehmeier said.

Strong winds caused the fire to spread northeast, he added.

Between 5-5:30 pm, the National Weather Service reported peak wind gusts of 33 mph and temperatures between 104-106 degrees with 5% relative humidity.

Airport operations and other employees quickly extinguished the fire using an aircraft rescue and firefighting truck, Stehmeier said.

In reader-submitted videos, employees wearing safety vests can be seen using fire extinguishers to subdue the flames. Damage was isolated to the landscaping, thanks to the efforts of quick-acting staff, said Stehmeier.

No damage to vehicles or structures was reported as the fire burned exclusively in the landscape island that separates the parking lot from the pavement in front of the terminal.

St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said firefighters were dispatched to the airport but the call was canceled by airport operations staff.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City issued a wind advisory and red flag warning forecasting southwest winds of 15-25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph and relative humidity as low as 7%. The Weather Service warned of critical fire conditions, noting that both new and existing fires could spread rapidly.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” states the most recent red flag warning, which will remain in effect until 10 pm, Monday.

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