Some fires are big and ferocious and destroy a home in minutes. Other fires are sneaky. They start quietly in an attic, slowly lurk throughout the eaves and eventually consume the home with smoke and smaller pockets of fire in the ceiling and walls.
The Pine-Strawberry Fire Department handled the latter of these two Tuesday night at a Pine home located in the 7000 block of Pine Road.
For 10 hours, firefighters from P-S, Hellsgate and Payson tore through the home’s ceiling and insulation searching for a fire that had managed to jump throughout the home’s attic.
P-S firefighters were first called out to the home around 7:40 p.m., after the homeowner noticed smoke filling a bedroom.
When firefighters arrived, the single-story wood home showed no signs of fire or distress from the outside, said P-S Capt. and Incident Commander Robert McCormick.
Inside, smoke was filling the home but there were no flames. Firefighters knew the fire must be in the attic, so they looked and saw a fire in the beginning stages on the other side of the attic.
“The fire had been smoldering for hours before they noticed it inside the home,” McCormick said.
“They had such abundant insulation in the attic and in this case it helped the fire’s cause.”
Knowing they could not get to the fire through the narrow attic, firefighters pulled the gable off the home and shot water at the smoldering flames.
Although firefighters had knocked this fire down, they did not know how much the fire had progressed throughout the attic under the thick blanket of insulation, which is nonflammable.
Upon further inspection, firefighters noticed the ceiling around a wood stove was glowing, so they pulled the ceiling down and found more fire, McCormick said.
“They started pulling out sheetrock and fire was hiding everywhere,” he said.
Using a thermal imaging camera, firefighters determined pockets of fire throughout most of the home’s ceiling and walls.
Firefighters covered furniture with tarps or moved it out before they began tearing down the ceiling and insulation.
By 1 a.m., most of the small fires were out, but firefighters continued to find hot spots.
By 5 a.m., McCormick finally made it back to the station.
“These kinds of fires are sneaky and time consuming,” he said.
In all, there were six firefighters and three reserves from P-S, five firefighters from Hellsgate Fire Department and three firefighters from Payson Fire Department.
No one was injured.