Firefighters on Wednesday managed to keep a fierce, wind-whipped fire that consumed an East Verde Estates home from igniting thick brush and threatening the whole community.
Despite wind and burning power lines, firefighters from several departments couldn’t save the house, but did keep the blaze from spreading from the 700 block of West Detroit Drive.
“It was very scary for the entire community,” said East Verde resident Craig Green.
The Payson Fire Department got a call from a neighbor at 5:45 p.m., said Chief Marty deMasi. The caller reported hearing an explosion and then seeing flames coming from the home.
A fire truck arrived on scene six minutes later, staffed with only two firefighters due to budget limitations.
Flames engulfed the single-story home and had spread to power lines and the surrounding forest when the crew arrived. Luckily, the homeowner was outside and uninjured.
Additional crews were called in, including APS, who helped put out the burning power lines.
High winds from the northeast pushed the fire across the street and into foliage.
“The flames were laying over horizontally and spread into the brush,” deMasi said.
Within 27 minutes, 18 firefighters had the fire under control using only water tender trucks, since East Verde Estates lacks fire hydrants. Crews stopped the fire from spreading to the homeowner’s nearby truck and sheds.
“Good training, excellent physical fitness, reliable equipment and established relationships with cooperating agencies helped firefighters confine the fire to the building of origin,” said Battalion Chief Dan Bramble.
Several crews stayed on scene until 2:30 a.m. to mop up.
Green, who lives nearby, said when he heard the fire trucks he grabbed his camera and joined about 25 other residents who watched the crews work.
“If it was any drier, it could have easily spread,” he said.
The blaze caused $200,000 in damages. A cause of the fire is under investigation.
Although East Verde is a Firewise community, deMasi said it is crucial homeowners prepare their homes. The land surrounding the home lost on Wednesday was not Firewise.
The American Red Cross assisted the homeowner.