A small brush fire burned within a few feet of a home off East Frontier Street Tuesday and threatened an apartment complex.
But Payson firefighters arrived on the scene just under two minutes after receiving a 911 call, and they extinguished the blaze before it spread to the nearby homes.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but according to witnesses and Payson firefighters, children were probably responsible.
"It's almost certain (the cause) was boys playing with matches," said Captain Marty DeMasi, who was one of the firefighters on the scene.
Payson Police Officer Dean Faust is investigating the report, but has not yet filed a report.
According to the fire department's incident report, a 911 call was made just before noon Tuesday to report a brush and grass fire on East Longhorn Road behind Wells Fargo Bank.
When firefighters arrived, the report said, the fire had burned across a yard and was approaching Norman Matlock's home.
According to Payson Fire Captain Tom Barker, the homeowner was fighting the blaze with a garden hose and "trying to keep (the fire) in check."
Matlock, who owns a 2-1/2 acre parcel of land near East Frontier, said he was losing the battle because his garden hose was fully extended and the flames were burning out of reach.
"(The fire) was to the ponderosas and heading for the apartments," he said. "It was five minutes from being a disaster."
Matlock said he also thinks the fire was caused by children playing with fire.
"I think one of the firemen took matches from the kids," he said.
By 12:02, the firefighters had the blaze under control.
The quick response time and quick thinking of the homeowner averted what could have been a tragedy, fire and police officials said.
With fire conditions extreme throughout the Rim country, fire officials are urging residents and visitors to obey all fire restrictions. Currently no fire permits are being issued in Payson.
Also, officials said, homeowners should keep weeds, brush and grass on their properties trimmed close to the ground and away from dwellings to help protect them from fire.