Garage Destroyed, House Saved

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Fire inspectors believe it may have been a wood stove or an electrical problem near it that caused an early morning fire Monday on Vista del Norte in Mesa del Caballo.

The blaze at the home of Don Rankin destroyed his garage, killed one of his puppies and torched a classic automobile.

"It was well involved on our arrival," said Mesa del Fire Chief Frank Hansen. "He had a lot of paper and wood stored in there."

Hansen said Rankin had stoked up the fire in the wood stove around 4 a.m. to keep his six newborn puppies warm. He then returned to bed.

Hours later, a neighbor spotted smoke coming out of the garage and tried to wake Rankin.

"He literally had to kick the door in to wake the man," Hansen said.

Mesa del firefighters responded to the scene within minutes, and had two hoses on the fire by the time assistance from the Payson Fire Department arrived. With both crews battling the blaze, the fire was under control in about 10 minutes, Hansen said, and was extinguished moments later.

While crews fought the flames, Rankin suffered chest pains and was treated by paramedics from the Payson department. He was later transported by ambulance to the hospital for observation. He was treated and released.

Of the six puppies residing in the garage, five were saved, Hansen said. Neighbors stepped forward and cared for the survivors until Rankin returned home.

"We did manage to prevent the fire from spreading to the house," Hansen said. The free-standing garage is connected to the house by a breezeway, he said.

Payson Fire Marshall Jack Babb, who aided with the fire investigation, helped narrow the point of origin and probable cause of the blaze, Hansen said.

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