Fire Destroys Chaparral Pines House


Payson firefighters battle thick smoke as they soak this two-story house late Thursday afternoon. The home, located in Chaparral Pines, was completely destroyed by a fire believed to be lightning-caused, but still under investigation.

Payson firefighters battle thick smoke as they soak this two-story house late Thursday afternoon. The home, located in Chaparral Pines, was completely destroyed by a fire believed to be lightning-caused, but still under investigation. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A bolt of lighting Thursday likely started a massive, smoky fire in a two-story Chaparral Pines home.

More than two-dozen firefighters battled the first-alarm fire, but the home was destroyed.

“We initially tried an offensive attack, but the fire had already taken too good a hold on the home,” said Payson Fire Marshal Bob Lockhart. “The fire was in the attic racing through the structure. There was very high, heavy smoke with flames showing.”

Neighbors nearby said they heard a loud crack and then a flash of lightning around 4:30 p.m., minutes before the blaze started.

Susan Imwalle, who lives a quarter of a block from the home, said she had turned everything off inside her home after a torrential monsoon storm erupted overhead.

“At one point, I heard a crack before the flash,” she said, “Within five minutes I heard sirens.”

Imwalle said she hadn’t noticed the home was on fire because it sits on a hill above her home. Luckily, someone driving by noticed smoke and flames billowing from the large, wooden home. By the time help arrived, the home had already erupted in flames, consuming the inside of the structure, but leaving the walls still standing.

By 6 p.m., the fire was under control, said Battalion Chief Tom Fife.

“It was such an intense fire. I can hear it crackling still this morning,” Imwalle said Friday.

No one was in the home at the time the fire started. The couple that owns the home is on vacation in California and expected to return this weekend.

Friday morning, crews were still on scene, containing flames burning in the home’s basement and remaining walls.

While the fire was most likely started by lightning, Lockhart said he is still investigating and not ready to make a final report.

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