A structure fire that started in the kitchen of a three-story apartment displaced the tenants of two of the apartments and garnered the interest of more than 40 residents as firefighters tended to a chaotic scene Sunday evening.
Shortly after 8 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire alarm activation at the Oasis Palms apartment complex on Dixie Drive involving a structure fire that reportedly started in the kitchen area, St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.
“We were paged out on the fire alarm at first,” Hooper said. “When 911 received a call from someone in the complex reporting they saw smoke coming from one of the third-floor apartments a few minutes later, we did an all-out page for all staff.”
The tenants were safely evacuated by the time the first engine arrived on scene. Crews encountered a fire alarm that continued ringing and smoke coming from the upstairs apartment, while a small crowd was gathered outside after exiting their apartments when the alarm sounded.
Firefighters entered to find that any active flames were already extinguished by an automatic sprinkler system installed throughout the complex. As the water continued to spray from the sprinkler, Hooper said, it ran into the unit located directly below on the second floor of the complex.
Shortly thereafter, the fire alarm and sprinkler system were deactivated and fire crews checked for any burning material and began the process of removing a large amount of water from both units.
Both apartments sustained “heavy, heavy water damage,” Hooper said, as well as smoke and fire damage. So much so, that both apartments were left uninhabitable until repairs could be completed, leaving the two families displaced.
The American Red Cross was contacted and responded to the scene to provide emergency shelter and provisions to the tenants displaced by the blaze.
Hooper said the fire appeared to have started near the stove.
“It looks like it started with a cooking fire, possibly grease,” he said. “But it was obviously hot enough to activate the sprinkler system.”
He went on to say that as a fire burns and gets hotter, the heat melts the wax plug placed over the head of the sprinkler, and once it completely melts away, the sprinkler automatically turns on, which is what happened Sunday.
No injuries were reported and an estimate of the damage was not yet available at the scene.