A homeowner escaped with his life but little else Wednesday night when a fire destroyed a Bonita Creek log home.
Flames as high as 70 feet were seen shooting from the two-story home nestled in the forest northeast of Payson.
It was about 11:30 p.m. when authorities believe a fire in the home’s fireplace spread into the living room, quickly catching a nearby Christmas tree on fire.
The homeowner, Michael Addington, said he had just gone to sleep upstairs, when he
heard the lower level smoke detector sound, said Houston Mesa Fire Chief Mark Essary, who served as fire commander.
“He said he went downstairs and the whole living room was on fire,” Essary said.
Addington told Essary he had stoked the fire just before retiring for the night. Essary said it is unclear if Addington is referring to the wood-burning stove or the home’s large fireplace. The fire remains under investigation, but is not suspicious at this time, he said.
Crews from four fire departments quickly responded, braving cold temperatures and icy roads to reach the home in the 100 block
of West Burnt Point Trail in Bonita Creek.
With six water tender trucks shuttling water between local tanks and those in Whispering Pines, 27 personnel had enough water to get the fire under control before it spread beyond the immediate trees near the home. Four outbuildings, including a garage, guest house and shed were saved.
The operation was one of the smoothest Essary said he had witnessed in years.
“It went flawlessly,” he said. “The biggest problem was the icy roads, there were trucks sliding all over the road.”
It took until 5 a.m. and 17,000 gallons of water to get the fire snuffed, although at 9:30 a.m. Thursday flare ups were still occurring.
The only thing left standing was the home’s stone fireplace.
“It was a beautiful home. It is a real shame,” he said.
Luckily, no one was injured.
“Good thing he came down when he did because he could have very, very possibly perished in the fire,” Essary said.
Essary believes Addington is staying with family in Payson.
The home was one of the few spared in the 1990 Dude Fire.
Responding fire departments included Whispering Pines, Hellsgate, Beaver Valley and Houston Mesa.