Fire departments urge safety after several RV fires in Utah

Dec 30, 2021, 6:34 PM | Updated: 10:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY & STOCKTON, Utah—After four RVs caught fire in Utah this week, causing serious injuries and two deaths, fire officials are reminding of safety guidelines for those staying in motorhomes.

The latest fire broke out around 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning in Stockton. Firefighters arrived on Railroad St. to find two motorhomes engulfed in flames.

The people staying in the RVs had safely escaped, according to Capt. Amy Lyman with the Stockton Fire Dept. The fire spread to a nearby tree but firefighters kept it from getting to other structures.

While the cause is still under investigation, Lyman said investigators are focusing on one possible ignition source.

“There were quite a few extension cords run to the RV so we suspect that it’s probably an electrical issue that caused this fire,” Lyman said.

Lyman said she recognizes that RVs don’t have a lot of power outlets but to use caution when adding power strips.

“When you are using an RV you want to make sure that the power supplies that you have are a heavy enough gauge to support what you’re using,” she said.

Lyman also said to make sure RVs have several fire extinguishers and working detectors for smoke, propane and carbon monoxide. Also, practice how to escape in an emergency.

“You should have at least two ways out and know what they are,” Lyman said. “Not just dad and not just mom knowing how, everyone that is in that space needs to know how to get out if they need to.”

A day earlier in Salt Lake City, two people and a dog died when an RV caught fire in an area that’s part of a homeless encampment.

“Nationwide we’re seeing a housing shortage and a difficulty for people to find affordable housing and safe places to stay,” said Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Anthony Burton, “and that affects us, especially because we’re in an area that get cold climates and inclement weather.”

A third person was able to escape from the RV but suffered smoke inhalation.

“Some of these RVs are older, they’re outdated or they’ve been modified so that’s a danger if fire is to spread,” Burton said, adding that things like curtains inside RVs can allow a fire to spread rapidly.

The cause of the Wednesday RV fire is also under investigation but Burton cautioned about using open flames for cooking and heating inside RVs, trucks, cars and vans.

“Oftentimes tragic events happen from an open flame,” he said.

Burton also recommended checking an RV’s propane and gas lines and connections for leaks. He encouraged people to go to a shelter if a situation isn’t safe.

“RVs in particular, use the heating system that it came with,” Burton said. “If it has a cooking system, use that as well.”

Investigators are also looking at what caused an explosion in an RV in Southern Utah on Monday night.

A family was living inside a bus that had been converted into an RV. The father and two children suffered serious burns.

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Fire departments urge safety after several RV fires in Utah