The keen eyes and fast action of neighbors saved a Payson home and possibly its entire neighborhood from destruction early Sunday morning, according to Payson Fire Chief John Ross.
"It was a good save," Ross said. "It was great those neighbors called us in time. With our extreme fire danger, we could have had a much different scenario."
The report of a fire at a vacant, two-story wood house on North Park Lane was received by firefighters at 1:12 a.m. Sunday, Ross said. Upon arrival, firefighters forced their way through the front door of the home and found a fire in the kitchen and the house filled with smoke.
"Fortunately, the fire was confined entirely to the kitchen; it had not had time to go vertical," Ross said. "We put it out pretty quickly."
Although the cause of fire is still under investigation, the fire chief said, "We tentatively think it could have been spontaneous combustion from rags soaked in varnish and turpentine, as the owners seemed to be re-doing the floors.
"What was important was that the neighbors across the street happened to see the fire erupt inside the house, and they called us," Ross said.
"We were there within 10 minutes at most. If they hadn't reacted so quickly, the fire could have vented through the roof, and embers could have been sent into the sky. In a worst-case scenario, this fire had the potential to threaten the homes immediately around it."
New fire restrictions
Due to record fire-hazard conditions, town of Payson officials are now restricting all open burning of wood, charcoal and other materials.
Not included in the restriction are the use of propane, fuel gas, or other fuels in containers with valve controls. The restrictions also do not apply to the use of lawn mowers, chain saws and garden appliances, although Payson Fire Department officials do recommend that all gasoline-powered equipment have properly-installed spark arresters .
For more information, call 474-5242 extension 300.