Electricity Sparked New Year's Fire

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Fire investigators determined Thursday that an electrical malfunction started the fire Monday that destroyed Realtor Jim Young's garage, sent him to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and caused an estimated $250,000 in damages.

Young and his wife, Dorothy, were awakened late Monday night by the persistent beeping of a smoke alarm, Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb said. Dorothy discovered the fire and shut the door between the garage and the house, which minimized the damage to the home, he said. Payson Police officers then led the couple to safety.

Twenty-six firefighters battled the blaze on North Deer Trail for half an hour before they were able to bring it under control, the fire marshal said.

The garage and all of its contents, including two luxury vehicles a Lincoln Navigator and a Pontiac Aurora a small motorcycle, various tools and appliances and boxes of business records, were destroyed in the fire. The Young's 3,000-square-foot home was smoke damaged.

Jim Young was treated for smoke inhalation at Payson Regional Medical Center and released in time to be honored the following day by the Central Board of Realtors as Realtor of the Year.

Fire investigators are uncertain precisely where the malfunction that sparked the fire originated.

"There were two or three different possibilities (of where the fire originated), and we couldn't pinpoint it any further than that," Babb said.

The two-year-old home is not equipped with fire suppression sprinklers, the fire marshal said, so it was Dorothy's quick thinking that saved the couple's house.

Shutting the door between the garage and the house, Babb said, "that's really what saved the home."

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