Car Fire Backs Up Beeline For 18 Miles Sunday

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While everyone else was enjoying the holiday weekend, emergency personnel were busy putting out a car fire, repairing a downed power line and investigating reports of a stolen boat and car.

On Sunday, a car that caught fire on Highway 87 caused a major headache for holiday travelers and DPS.

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A downed power line on Ft. McDonald Road was probably caused by high winds Thursday evening.

Cars backed up for 18 miles after a late-model Toyota burst into flames.

A couple traveling south on 87 toward Phoenix noticed their car was smoking around 9:30 a.m. The driver pulled over south of Slate Creek Divide, near milepost 224. Shortly after stopping, the car burst into flames, according to DPS Sgt. John Whetten.

The car could not be removed from the roadway due to concrete barriers which were placed up to the white line, eliminating the emergency lane. The barriers are there because of road construction.

It took the Payson Fire Department 15 minutes to put the blaze out, and it was another 45 minutes before the road was reopened.

"We tried to get the traffic going through there again as fast as possible," Whetten said. But after only an hour, the traffic was backed up for 18 miles.

Downed power line

APS and Payson Police were called out Thursday evening, after a Payson woman and her two daughters witnessed a power line fall in front of their home.

Susan Green said her 17-year-old daughter, Samantha, was out on the patio of their home in the 500 block of Ft. McDonald Road July 3, when she heard cracking and saw the pole come down. Green thinks strong monsoonal winds blew it down.

The pole fell into the road, and no one could pass, she said. APS and the Payson Police responded quickly and had the pole repaired around 3 a.m.

"APS said it was an old pole and just gave way," Green said.

Stolen boat

A boat and trailer were reported stolen Wednesday from a storage yard in Tonto Basin. This is the second boat reported stolen from the facility in two months.

A Phoenix man came to retrieve his 1978 Terry runabout boat from Jacqleen's Boat and RV Storage located on State Route 188, and discovered it was missing along with the 1969 trailer. The owner estimated it was worth $4,500.

The man last saw the boat May 2007 and had not been back to the storage facility in more than a year.

The manager of the facility did not realize the boat had been taken, said Chad Peters, Gila County Sheriff's Office dispatcher.

This is the second boat reported stolen from Jacqleen's. The other was reported May 31, and has not been recovered.

"We don't get very many boats reported stolen," Peters said.

Stolen vehicle recovered

A 25-year-old Rye man was arrested on vehicle theft charges Wednesday after a deputy saw him reportedly driving a stolen vehicle.

Gila County Deputy Tom Buckner arrested James Brown July 2, after he saw him driving a 1997 Dodge Intrepid that was reported stolen Jan. 13.

The vehicle was stolen from a residence in the 3500 block of Forest Road 184 and was recovered from Brown's residence, 3588 Forest Road 184.

The two homes "are within blocks of each other," Buckner said.

Brown had reportedly switched the vehicle identification number on the car. He was booked into the Gila County jail.

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