Fire fighters from three local agencies battled a mobile home blaze in Rye Thursday and were able to put it out before flames reached a 500-gallon propane tank.
They couldn't however, save 67-year-old William Baker's home. It burned to the ground and consumed all but his car and the clothes on his back.
When the fire started, crews from the U.S. Forest Service were first to respond to the scene 11 miles south of Payson. At 9:17 a.m., they called in for additional firefighters from the Payson and Diamond-Star Fire Departments.
"If they have a small problem, they won't call us," Payson Fire Chief John Ross said. "But if it's bigger, they want our help."
Firefighters were concerned when they saw the 500-gallon oil tank on the property, but cooled it off with water before pressure from the heat could cause an explosion.
"After we got it under control, it didn't pose a threat," Ross said.
The fire covered an acre of land around the mobile home and consumed vegetation, he said.
When the water tanker arrived, firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the fire.
"They were out there for awhile putting out small flames, after the worst part was contained," he said.
With the help of the American Red Cross, Baker will soon begin looking for a home and may put it on the same property where his old mobile once stood, Gila County Sheriff Deputy Colt White said.
"I'm amazed at all they're doing to make sure he's OK," White said. "I never expected anything this great. It's really pretty neat."
The Red Cross is providing White with a motel room for three days, and will pay the first month's rent on a new mobile home, when he finds one. Volunteers have found shoes and clothes for Baker, and will help him get lamps, bedding, and small furniture for a new home.
"They went out there and saw his place was totaled, and said, 'Well, we can do this and this and that for him, and just kept on thinking of more things they could do," White said. "They were really great."
Investigators still don't know how the fire started, but Baker suspects he left a lit cigarette on the sofa.