Fire Destroys 3-Story Log Home In Half-Hour

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

It took homeowner Mark Pond nine years to build his log home on a hilltop in Whispering Pines, but fire destroyed the home in about 30 minutes.

After an intense fire ripped through a three-story Rim Trail log home Monday, all that remained was an oversized campfire of twisted metal and charred logs.

Homeowner Mark Pond had reportedly worked nine years to construct the hilltop log home, in the 800 block of East Whitetail Knob, just outside of Whispering Pines, all to see it burn to the ground in a half hour.

Around 11:30 p.m., volunteers at the Whispering Pines Fire Department got a call from Pond who reported that a fire had started in the chimney of his wood stove and was spreading quickly to the rest of the home.

By the time the first engine arrived on scene 25 minutes later, the home was already fully involved.

Because of the home’s remote location up a narrow, winding road, only a few fire trucks could get near the home, which was conveniently near a town water storage tank.

Even when the road isn’t icy, the house is difficult to reach, said Whispering Pines Fire Chief Rob Beery.

Beery said you could see the home burning from far off. “We saw an orange glow up on the hill,” Beery said.

Firefighter Mark King said it looked like the whole forest was on fire from the valley.

“It was like daylight,” he said.

Realizing they could not save the home, the first responders immediately took a defensive stance to keep it from spreading to other homes in the area, Beery said.

Whispering Pines then called for help from neighboring fire departments to manage the blaze, which had already spread to several tall pines surrounding the home and a small travel trailer in the yard.

Because of the home’s remote location up a narrow, winding road, only a few fire trucks could get near the home, which was conveniently near a town water storage tank. “It is a hard place to get at when there is warm weather,” Beery said.

Some 40 firefighters from Beaver Valley, Hellsgate, Mesa del, Houston Mesa, Pine-Strawberry and Payson fire departments arrived on scene to help. “Our objective was to keep it from spreading to other homes or the forest,” he said.

Even though it was snowing, Beery worried the blaze could get out of control.

“If it had been the summer, it would have burned several homes down,” he said.

Pond, his 13-year-old daughter and their three boxers were uninjured.

Several fire trucks got stuck getting out of the area and firefighters had to wait until Tuesday to remove a four-wheel drive truck that had slid into a ditch.

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