GRAHAM COUNTY — Volunteer firefighters finished mopping up a house fire southwest of Thatcher just in time for many of them to shower and head to their regular jobs Friday morning.
Graham County Dispatch alerted the Thatcher Fire Department at about 2:26 a.m. to a fully engulfed house fire at 5263 W. Willcox Way. The home is just south of Layton Road and is about two miles southwest of Thatcher.
According to Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne, the residents were wakened by a crash and discovered their front room filled with smoke. They were forced to cut through a screen door that was taped shut to escape the flames because they couldn't see through the thick smoke. The male resident was taken to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center by Southwest Ambulance for treatment of smoke inhalation and was later released the same day.
Thatcher Fire Department responded to the scene with three engines, a tanker, a rescue truck and the chief's truck. There are no fire hydrants in the area, but the department had more than enough water loaded on its trucks and tanker.
Upon arrival, the living room, dining room and front porch were all fully involved, according to Payne. Firefighters confined the blaze to those areas, but other rooms in the home suffered smoke and heat damage.
Payne said the flames were knocked down pretty quickly, but the mop-up took a while because the fire went into the attic and was burning insulation. That forced firefighters to knock down a large portion of the ceiling to make sure the fire was completely out. The department was released from the scene at about 5:30 a.m.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Payne said evidence suggests the living room was the ignition point. He believes the fire could have started in the electrical wiring or by a cigarette. The renters of the home reported they had actually quit smoking two weeks ago, however.
"It's real hard to tell on a thing like that," Payne said.
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