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A recent house fire has sparked Deer Creek homeowners and personnel of neighboring fire districts to discuss possible solutions to the community’s lack of fire protection.

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Fire chiefs defend Deer Creek response

Some angry residents criticized late-arriving, out-of-area firefighters

The Deer Creek community has lacked fire protection far too long, a group of fire chiefs agreed Monday. Recently, many residents were outraged that help did not arrive on April 16 as a house burned to the ground in the small community south of Payson. However, officials attending Monday’s Gila County Fire Chiefs Association meeting turned the tables, saying they are outraged residents have blamed Tonto Basin and Payson Fire for not showing up — when those agencies have no legal obligation to respond at all. “People need to be aware that if they move into an area like this, they have no fire coverage,” said Hellsgate Fire Chief Gary Hatch. What fire protection would look like and who would provide coverage remains unclear, but residents should take action before tragedy strikes, the group agreed.

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