At 9:45am Sunday morning the Prescott Regional Communication Center received multiple reports of a structure fire in the Dearing Park community west of Thumb Butte. Initial reports stated that flames and smoke could be seen through the window of a detached two-story garage. The owner of the garage reported that there were hazardous materials as well as containers of gasoline inside the garage. Witnesses at the scene reporting hearing repeated popping sounds from inside the building. At the time that firefighters arrived, the owner was attempting to remove valuables from the building, successfully pushing a VW bug from the garage but was unable to remove a 1934 Ford Coupe project he had been working on for the past decade.
There is no water infrastructure in Dearing Park, so no fire hydrants were available to supply water. The four responding engines from Prescott Fire Department and Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority were forced to utilize their onboard tanks to fight the fire initially. The onboard tanks vary in size from 500 to 1000 gallons. The first three arriving engines had used some 2,000 gallons and were almost empty, using the last of the available water to protect the adjacent home from the heat, when a fourth engine arrived along with CAFMA’s water tender. The two vehicles were able to provide an additional 4,000 gallons. A second water tender eventually arrived and the two tenders rotated their positions supplying water for the remainder of the three hour operation.
Ultimately the structure and its contents were a total loss. Firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to the garage despite radiant heat which had begun to cause the owner’s main home to smolder. A garden shed and adjacent propane tank were also protected. There was no extension of fire into the surrounding forest. The homeowner stated that he had burned wood in his garage’s wood stove early that morning to warm up the garage and later noted the smell of smoke. He spotted a fire on the garage’s roof when he investigated and was one of several callers to report the fire. Fire investigators from both Prescott Fire and CAFMA were present to conduct further investigation and their work is ongoing.
While the homeowner was successful in retrieving his VW bug, firefighters warn against people reentering a burning building. Without proper protective equipment, a person risks severe burns, respiratory injury, or becoming overwhelmed by the superheated gases, which can lead to catastrophic or fatal injuries. Additionally, by reentering a burning building, that individual will often leave doors open for their escape route. These open doors provide improved ventilation to the fire, allowing for additional oxygen and faster growth and spread of the fire, ultimately leading to more damage than would have occurred had they left the building closed up.