A fire caused by an exhaust fan heavily damaged the Utah State University Extension Center in St. George on Wednesday.
St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said the blaze started about 9:15 a.m. inside a bathroom exhaust fan at the center.
He said the three employees inside the building at the time reported seeing the lights flicker and then smelled smoke.
Before evacuating safely the employees attempted to use a fire extinguisher on the blaze, but Stoker said the fire quickly spread into the attic and into numerous crawl spaces.
It took crews about two hours to get the fire under control.
Stoker said the blaze caused an estimated $300,000 in damage, and it was possible the building, located at 44 N. 100 West, would be declared a total loss.
Stoker said crews have recently battled several blazes caused by overheated exhaust fans.
He said the lint and dust build up inside and cause the fans to short out and start fires. He recommended that people and business owners routinely remove the covers from the fans and vacuum them out to help keep them free of debris.