Smoke from brush fire fills Sunny Isle Shopping Center

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ST. CROIX - Thick black plumes of smoke billowed over the Sunny Isle Shopping Center on Tuesday afternoon, after a brush fire blazed across a nearby field, causing some businesses in the area to close early.

According to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency police blotter, which keeps a log of emergency calls, 911 dispatchers received a call of an outside fire at 1:31 p.m. from someone in the Sion Farm area and notified the V.I. Fire Service.

V.I. Fire Sgt. Peter Austin said a total of eight firefighters responded, with two fire units from the Richmond fire station and one fire unit from Estate Grove Place.

When the units arrived, the fire was roaring in the middle of the open field that separates the shopping center from the Sion Farm residential area, Austin said.

Because of the windy weather conditions and the dry, low-humidity conditions, the fire spread fast and traveled eastward toward the residential area and westward toward the shopping center, he said.

The flames burned through the low thick brush and stopped just short of the rear of the shopping center, scorching more than 60 acres, according to Austin.

It took firefighters about 60 to 90 minutes to get the blaze completely extinguished, and no one was hurt and no property was damaged, Austin said.

Some stores, primarily on the northern side of the shopping center, closed their doors by 3 p.m. because of irritation caused by the thick smoke that had infiltrated the ventilation system.

The post office and AT&T retail store both closed and posted signs that advised customers that they would reopen today at their regular hours.

Austin said no foul play is suspected in the fire, but there were no clear indications of what exactly caused the fire.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email

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