Fire Burns Lifetime Of Memories

House fire visible four blocks away


Four people escaped injury when their Mesa del Caballo home was destroyed by fire early Saturday morning. The family's 8-year-old Chihuahua, however, died from smoke inhalation.

The four residents, 71-year-old Ila Devaney, her son, Walter Devaney, daughter-in-law Shirley, and their teenage daughter, Melissa, had left the home just 30 minutes before the fire.

Mesa del Caballo Acting Fire Chief Frank Hansen said they had gone to the Valley, where they learned about the fire from another family member.

They returned to Mesa del late Saturday morning to find all their belongings, the home and its contents destroyed by fire and smoke. The Red Cross and the family's insurance company have provided temporary shelter for them, Hansen said.

Hansen said the fire was reported by one of the Devaneys' neighbors, Mike Bauer, at 5:05 a.m.

Hansen said he could see flames coming from the log cabin home on Vista Road as he left the fire station four blocks away.

"The trees went up in a ball of flames," he said. Power lines were downed and both APS and Energy West employees responded to the scene.

"As we were responding, I requested assistance from Payson Fire Department," Hansen said. "Initially, we had reports that someone was in the structure, but that proved to be untrue.

"According to the preliminary report, the house was estimated at $65,000 and contents were about $15,000," he said. "But you can't put a value on a life's worth of collectibles and valuables."

Hansen said both fire departments, Mesa del Caballo and Payson, worked together to protect the neighborhood.

Half of Mesa del's water used

Mesa del used half of the water in its tender, 2,500 gallons, to put the fire out.

"We had the fire knocked down four minutes after we were on the scene," Hansen said. "We sent two people in with a fire hose to do an initial search."

He said the fire may have started from an electric blanket. "When we got in, the back bedrooms and bathroom were fully engulfed," he said. "We found no one there. Payson Fire arrived with one engine and assisted with the rest of the extinguishment. They also brought in a utility unit. Everything was under control by 5:27 a.m.

"The initial attack was done rapidly and the assistance from the Payson Fire Department was greatly appreciated."

Hansen said nearby homes were not damaged.

"The potential was there for greater damage with the fire spreading to adjoining properties," he said. "It was an intense fire with a potential for being much worse."

Nearly 20 people from the two departments battled the blaze which was the third large fire in the subdivision this year.

An earlier fire at the Houston Mesa General Store destroyed an adjoining home in mid-February. A second fire destroyed a double garage at a residence several months ago.

"That (many fires is) unusual for a subdivision," Hansen said. "All the more reason to maintain a home community fire department out here."

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