Fire officials say a woman determined to “get the devil out of her bed” intentionally set her home on fire Thursday evening.
Plumes of dark smoke hung over Payson as firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish a fast-moving blaze, fueled by hoards of paper, boxes and junk throughout the home, at 301 S. Clark Road.
Resident Carla Hartman, 60, later admitted to fire officials she poured camp fuel on her bed and lit it around 7 p.m. because she was trying to get the devil out of her bed, Fire Chief Marty deMasi said. She was later arrested on arson charges.
Officials believe Carla was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.
“She intentionally started it, no doubt about that,” Chief deMasi said.
Neighbors told firefighters that when they rushed to the home to check on Carla and her brother Bill Hartman, they found Carla outside spinning on the ground, coughing and speaking incoherently. The Hartmans’ five dogs surrounded Carla, keeping neighbors away.
Sgt. John Heflin, who was the first emergency responder to arrive on scene, said he found Carla lying in the home’s front yard and screaming for her brother.
Thinking her brother Bill could still be inside, Heflin ran into the home, across the living room and down a hallway.
“I ran down the hallway but couldn’t get any further” without risking my life, Heflin said.
Black smoke filled the home quickly as a large column of smoke formed outside.
By the time incident commander Capt. Rhett Connolly arrived on scene, just minutes before fire engines, he said he saw flames pouring from a front living room window and rear bedroom window.
More than a dozen firefighters fought the one-alarm blaze from inside as well as through a ventilation hole cut through the roof. The fire was under control within 30 minutes, by around 7:30, fire officials said.
Sally Forschee, who lives a few homes away from the Hartmans, said she was sitting in her living room with her husband Wayne when they heard a great commotion over the police scanner.
Forschee said she heard that a woman was lying outside clutching her throat and someone was still trapped inside the home. The Forschees came outside and watched as police and firefighters arrived. Paramedics later whisked Carla away in an ambulance.
Bill, who arrived on scene just as the fire was settling down, said he was in the Valley for the day.
As Bill drove down Bonita Street, he saw a large commotion and smoke coming from near his home. When he yelled at an officer to let him past a barricade, the officer told him to move along because no one was allowed back.
Bill’s shorts were badly tattered and he was scraped up after he said he jumped several fences to get to his home and check on his sister.
Heflin later said the officer should have let Bill back, but he did not realize Bill was the homeowner.
Bill said he has lived in the home for the past 35 years with Carla. Once his parents’ home, Bill said their whole life was inside.
“She has got to be freaking out,” Bill said to Heflin as they watched firefighters mill around the home.
After a surgery at age 17, Carla only has one lung, Bill said.
“She is not OK,” he said when one neighbor tried to comfort him.
Police and neighbors were able to round up the Hartmans’ five dogs, Bukoo, Sugar, Jake, Bailey and Rocky, and their burro. All the animals were unharmed and are being housed at the humane society.
Although not a total loss, the home was badly gutted.
“There was a lot of stuff inside,” deMasi said.
The Globe Fire Department brought up arson dog, Frank, Friday to confirm arson.