ST. GEORGE — At around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, a motorist traveling southbound on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge reportedly sparked a brush fire when he pulled over to inspect his vehicle. As the flames spread down to the dry creek bed below, fire crews from multiple nearby communities converged to address the incident.
With temperatures as high as 115 degrees, the men and women working to stop the fire's spread had to contend with the heat of the sun and the flames. A firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management suffered heat exhaustion, requiring treatment in an ambulance provided by the Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire District.
"He didn't have to be hospitalized," said Micah Fey, the incident commander with the Arizona Strip District of the BLM. "He got about two bags of IV, maybe two and a half. We usually give them at least the rest of the day, if not the next day, off just to recuperate."
Anything over about 105 (degrees) is just really difficult in any situation. You can't stay cool.
–Micah Fey, BLM
In addition to the precautions necessary for working along the busy interstate, the firefighters did their best to exercise caution when it came to working out in the heat.
"Anything over about 105 (degrees) is just really difficult in any situation. You can't stay cool," Fey said. "We mitigate it by rotating personnel in and out of the truck. We'll send a couple of guys out, let them work the fire and then slot people out every hour so people get a chance to cool off. That's about all you can do."