When Misti Isley saw a pillar of fire coming from the house across the street from her own home, she feared the worst.
"I was frightened that there might be people in there," said Isley. "It was too much of a hot blaze for the firefighters to go in."
As flames and smoke billowed from the rear of the home, Payson police evacuated neighboring houses while firefighters worked to contain a blaze that destroyed one house and threatened the Mountain Shadows Mobile Home Park at 609 S. Colcord Road Thursday morning.
"It was lucky that the trees were so wet around the home," Payson Police Officer Joni Varga said.
John and Karen Harris, and their children, J.C, 16, and Jenny Lynn, 2, were visiting relatives in town when they received the call that their home was on fire.
"This is everybody's nightmare," John Harris said. "It's devastation. That's the only word I know for it. I look and see where a bedroom should be, and it's not there anymore."
Seventeen firefighters from the Payson and Diamond Star fire departments were able to control the fire within 30 minutes.
"It was a stubborn fire," Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi said. "It was a well-involved structure fire. They worked hard and did a great job"
Allen Cotton, a maintenance worker at Mountain Shadows Park, said he was grateful for the fast response from Payson Fire Department.
"I was very impressed. It makes me feel safer," Cotton said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"We're leaning toward a space heater that was on near some combustibles in the area of that room," deMasi said. "If people are going to use those kinds of heaters, it's important that they leave a 3-foot area around the heater -- away from clothes, furniture or anything that could burn. If you leave your home, we recommend that you turn them off."
Harris said they run heaters all the time in the winter.
"They say there's a 3-foot (clearance) rule," he said. "I didn't know about that. It's been cold. I'm just glad nobody was in there."
Losing his house wasn't the last tragedy of the day. John Harris went to visit his insurance agent after the fire was extinguished. While driving on the Beeline Highway, another driver lost control on a patch of ice, overcorrected, and slammed into the side of his van.
"What a day this has been," Harris said.
But with all that he has faced, Harris said he is keeping things in perspective.
"I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful daughter, a great son and a beautiful dog," he said. "I honestly don't know what we're going to do, but we're all alive. God must be on my side today."