Plumes of black smoke rose on the west side of Highway 87, north of West Forest Drive Tuesday afternoon as a fire consumed a Payson home and left two people homeless.
In a matter of minutes, only the charred foundation of a home and a car frame still stood.
"It was completely gutted," said Fire Chief Marty deMasi. "It is all going to the dump."
The fire, at 100 W. Chateau Circle, started around 12:40 p.m., deMasi said. It took 20 firefighters roughly 20 minutes to get the fire fire under control.
Kim Chittick, who lives to the east of the home, called 911 after hearing multiple popping sounds coming from her neighbors' yard.
"I was doing housework and I heard a popping sound. I looked out the side window and heard another pop noise," Chittick said. "I saw flames coming from the carport area. It started right in front of her van."
Chittick ran out to her driveway after calling 911, and saw another neighbor helping the homeowner, Cynthia Barnes, down her front steps and to the street.
"She was worried about her van, but the other neighbor said, ‘Don't worry about it.' It was completely gone," Chittick said.
Neighbors Randy Roberson and Dave Bradford, standing a block west of the blaze, both said their dogs started barking around 12:50 p.m., alerting them to the fire.
Many residents stood outside their homes in the neighborhood watching the fire.
At 3:40 p.m., firefighters were still on scene doing clean up. deMasi said crews would periodically go to the property throughout the night to check for hot spots and flame ups.
"It is hard to get everything all at once," he said. "We are quite lucky to keep it from getting to other structures."
Chittick said one of her windows was cracked after a paint can from the garage went flying and hit it.
A few trees were damaged, but other neighboring homes suffered no damage, deMasi said.
The fire started in the carport, most likely from an electric air compressor left on, deMasi said. Homeowner David Barnes reportedly left the compressor on after filling some tires because he thought he might have to use it again.
deMasi said there was a lot of stuff in the carport and home that easily ignited, spreading the fire quickly.
Cynthia was watching television when the fire started, deMasi said.
"The TV fluttered and then went off," deMasi said. "Cynthia walked down and the computer was still on, she then heard some pops and bangs and the computer screen flittered. With her peripheral vision she saw flames, then the power went out and there were loud bangs."
Cynthia grabbed her dog, Georgette, and walked out of the home. Both were uninjured.
Red Cross nurse Kathleen Kelly said the Barneses were put up in a hotel a few days by the Red Cross and their insurance will cover the next few days. Their insurance will place them in a new home after that.
The Red Cross also gave them a credit card to cover their basic needs and some medications. Cynthia takes multiple prescriptions, which were all lost in the fire.
"People walk out with just what they have on," Kelly said. "She holds onto that dog, it lives in her lap because it gives her something."
Kelly said the Barneses need household items donated for their new home. Any donations can be dropped off at the Roundup office, 708 N. Beeline Highway.
"The wonderful thing about this town is the people coming together," Kelly said. "This town is a family and everyone comes through when people are in need."
Two-story Pine home explodes
A two-story home in Pine exploded in flames Wednesday morning, shooting fire from the windows and ending in a pile of smoldering ash.
This was the second home in two days destroyed by fire in Rim Country.
The home, at 5452 W. Valley View, went up in flames in a matter of minutes, shortly after neighbors heard a loud explosion around 10:30 a.m.
Homeowners Gabe Perez and his wife were down in the Valley at the time of the fire and no one was was injured.
Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Bob Lashua said neighbors called after hearing a loud explosion and seeing a large plume of smoke near the home. When firefighters arrived, the home was already engulfed.
Crews used more than 10,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze by 11:15 a.m., he said.
"It is a total loss," Lashua said of the home.
Neighbor Bill Myers said he was inside his home when he heard a loud explosion, like two sticks of dynamite.
"I saw big billows of smoke," Myers said when he looked outside. When he walked over to the home, it was already fully engulfed.
"You could smell gas and see flames coming out of the windows," Myers said.
Joe McNamara, who recently moved into the neighborhood, said he and Myers stood across the street and could feel the intense heat from the fire.
"Like 120-degree heat," McNamara said.
Mary Walker, who lives up the hill from the Perez home, said when she took her garbage out around 8 a.m. she did not smell gas and the home looked normal.
Several hours later, Walker saw the fire truck lights, and wandered down to the street.
"Boy was I ever surprised," Walker said. "It's not something you see every day."
Walker said the Perezes lived in the home full time.
Kati Austin, the Perezes' daughter, said she knows God protected her parents and her husband, Brian, who had gone to his father-in-law's house to return keys, shortly after the fire started.
Brian said he had planned to return the keys sooner, but was held up at home for several hours. When he drove over, he found the house surrounded by fire trucks and emergency workers.
"He could have been in there working," Kati said.
Brian worked in the home Tuesday night laying tile. When he left, everything seemed secure.
"I am just so happy my parents and husband are alive," Kati said.
The Perezes had lived in the home for about 17 years, Kati said.
Lashua said a gas explosion inside the home from an unknown source started the fire. A white propane tank outside the home was not damaged
Kati said she went to the Valley Wednesday to tell her parents about the fire. She expected her parents to stay with family members.