A fire that destroyed the home of a family of five in Thatcher Thursday was accidentally started by the homeowner, who was burning weeds and debris left over from a brushfire last May.
"Embers got into the corner of the house and by the time he realized it, the hose didn't reach and the faucet wasn't working," said Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne. "There was a canopy on the front of the house that was very flammable and it just lit up and went across the front of the trailer."
The front of the house was fully engulfed in flames when he arrived, Payne said.
"The wind took it right into the house," Payne said.
The mobile home and a nearby travel trailer were declared a total loss, but firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to most of the cars on the property and a nearby mobile home, Payne said.
"The fire started on the corner closest to (the neighbor's) and if the winds had shifted it easily could have gotten over there," Payne said.
Thatcher and Safford volunteer firefighters received a call about the blaze in the 900 block of South First Avenue around 12:30 p.m. Roughly two dozen firefighters spent about four hours at the scene, Payne said. They'll continue to monitor it today to make sure it doesn't flare up again.
One of the homeowners was able to grab some paperwork out of the house before evacuating, including her children's birth certificates, but everything else was lost, Payne said. The family is receiving help from Red Cross, but did not have insurance on the home, he said. They spent the night at a relative's home.
Last May, the homeowners' neighbors called 911 after finding a wall of flames in the mesquite thicket between their home and his.
When firefighters arrived, they saw two other homes up the road had small fires in their front yards as well, with the flames extending under the vehicles outside one of the homes.
Safford Fire helped extinguish the blazes, which burned half an acre and came within 12 feet of the home that was lost Thursday.
The cause of the blaze was never determined, but Payne said at the time it could've been started by someone dragging a chain.